Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crock Pot Setian and Veggies

Not the biggest fan of faux meat, here. Fake bacon, all that Quorn stuff, sometimes it puts me off. That's not to say I don't find crumbled Fakon an awesome taste atop roasted corn chowder - just that if you're trying to stay away from processed foods, fake meat is about as Outta a Tube as you can get, so I try to stick with Au Natural proteins, both for my clients and for our little fam.

But when you're going to a foodie pre-Thanksgiving bash, and there's nothing but Meaters as far as the eye can see, well, a compromise isn't out of the question. Enter pot roast. Of Seitan.

The base of this dish isn't much different than my sausage recipe - flavors and herbs vary, but the gluten/soy/tapioca ratios are the same. The process gets a lot more complicated, tho, since my biggest gripe about Big Ol Pile of Braised Seitan is that the texture is too uniform. I wanted a crust, some crunch, so I added some steps.

This recipe isn't vegan - it contains some butter, some honey. Easy conversions would be EarthBalance and Agave - they'd work fine, and the results would be slightly less rich. Let me know if you take that plunge, and how it turns out!

Seitan Pot Roast and Veggies, in a Crock Pot

makes 10 slices and tons of veggie - serves 10-12

For the Seitan:
Dry mix:
3 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons veggie bouillion powder
Tons of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fennel seed
Fresh nutmeg, a couple rasps
1 tablespoon hickory or smoked salt
1 tablespoon tarragon, rubbed

Wet mix:
2 tablespoons smoke flavor
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon honey

Mix your dry ingredients well in a large bowl, make a well in the center, and while stirring with a fork (or be like me and use your paws!) add your wet ingredients. Grab and hunk and knead it for a few minutes, and shape it into a "roast", making sure it'll fit in your crockpot (the one I have, a friends, actually, is rather large).

We're not wrapping this in cheesecloth as many seitan recipes call for because we want a soft, slightly chewy texture. If you prefer your seitan super-dense, wrap away.

Accompanying Veggies:
1 package pearl onions, peeled
1 package tiny potatoes, pricked all over with a fork
1/4 fennel bulb, chopped
1 small head raddichio, chopped
12 garlic cloves, peeled
1 package whole baby bella mushrooms
1/2 package grape tomatoes
1 pound small carrots, both orange and purple, greens cut off

Layer some fennel on the bottom of the pot and put the roast on top. Scatter the remaining veggies around and on top of the roast.

For braising the seitan:

4 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 fennel bulb, chopped
2 tablespoons flavorful honey
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 package grape tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fine
Fresh thyme, a sprig
Dash soy sauce
Dash hickory flavoring
4 cups well-seasoned vegetable stock (use mushroom, faux chicken, whatever you prefer)
1 cup bourbon

In a saucepot, melt your butter and add garlic, fennel, celery. Saute 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, dry and fresh, and cook until fresh tomatoes fall apart.

Add the rest of your ingredients and bring to a boil - then simmer 15 minutes until the bourbon has mellowed out a bit. Taste for salt, add if needed.

Assemble and cook:

Pour your broth over the roast, making sure it and most of the veggies are covered. Turn your crock pot to LOW and cook 3 hours, then turn to HIGH for another hour, hour and a half. Your seitan will be softer than if you used my regular method - that is OK, trust me!

Finishing touches:

1/2 cup flour
Fresh black pepper, ground

Canola oil, for shallow-frying

After it cools a bit, slice your roast into 1/4 inch thick slices. Heat your oil to medium-high. Dredge each piece of seitan in your flour mixture and gently place in the oil (I did this in a skillet and could fit two slices at once). Fry until browned and carefully flip, cooking 2 minutes on each side. Drain well on paper towels. Repeat.

This step gives the seitan a slightly crunchy, rough crust - a nice compliment to the soft, chewy interior. Worth the time and some smoke in the kitchen, says I!

To serve, cover the bottom of a large platter with the "unrecognizables" (read: delicious) like the fennel and raddichio from your crock pot and place the splayed roast slices out on top. Scatter the potatoes and mushrooms, etc, around the roast, tucking single parsley leaves behind and beside until you have a nice balance of color. Serve your cooking liquid alongside as gravy (I thickened mine with a butter/flour paste, a la JC, but you could easily use cornstarch if you'd prefer).

Laborious. But super-yum.


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