Monday, March 21, 2011

Seitan with Coriander Peppercorn Crust

This is totally a "Me Too! Meee Tooooooo!!!" dish.

Veggies get left outta some really delish holiday cooking traditions - Ham at Xmas, Turkey at Thanksgiving, Lamb on Easter, and let's not forget Corned Beef 'n Cabbage on St. Frat-er-Patty's Day. Are there myriad delish, less carnagey things to eat on those hallowed days? Yes. But sometimes, it's killer to slice into a roast - carving knife in hand, two-pronged fork carefully distributing pieces of (in this case) a savory, peppery loaf of wheat protein. Retro in a 70s cookbook kinda way.

For moi, this is also a memory meal - 9 years old, at my girl Heather's house (the same year I learned that trespassing in a tree nursery guarded by a 90 pound Rottweiler is a good way to end up with a hole in the bottom of yer pants), her wiry/red haired Ma pulling tons of cabbage and beef out of their seemingly hot-tub-sized crock pot. Beef was not something we ate much of at my house, so it was a pretty exotic meal, and this year, I decided to try it veg-style.

And thus we have Crock Pot Cabbage and Corned Seitan
serves 4, easily

for the seitan:
Dry mix:
2 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup soy flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons veggie beef boullion powder (like dees)
Tons of freshly ground black pepper

Wet mix:
1/2 cup water blended with 10 cloves roasted garlic until the garlic completely dissolves
4 tablespoons earthbalance, melted
2 tablespoons flavorful olive oil
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon molasses

1/4 cup black peppercorns
1/4 cup whole coriander seeds
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Oil - aerosol form preferred, but you can gently brush the roast with a basting brush if you need to.

to accompany:
1 large head green cabbage, cut into 6ths
4 large carrots
4 medium potatoes, pricked all over with a fork

for the crock pot:
1/2 cup dark beer
4 cups water mixed with 4 tablespoons veggie beef boullion or tamari (or more water - depends on the size of your pot. If you increase, stick with the 1 tablespoon tamari or stock to each cup water ratio)
4 sprigs parsley
2 bouquet garni made from 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tsp celery seeds, and a couple whole cloves each - either wrap them in cheesecloth or use a tea bag

Phew. Looks far more complicated than it is, trust me! Let's go.

Mix your dry seitan ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and blend your wet ingredients together in your blender. As you massage with your left hand, slowly pour the wet into the dry and, using both hands now, knead the seitan until it is uniformly blended and comes together into a loaf.

Put your carrots in the bottom of your pot and sit the seitan on top of them. Add your bouquets, potatoes, parsley and cabbage, nestling them in around the seitan.

Pour your tamari or stock/water mix over everything, and your beer. You want to start with cold water so the seitan has a chance to brine a little bit. Make sure that the top of the loaf is covered.

Check for salt levels - the surrounding broth should have a slightly salty taste. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375f.

Pull the seitan out of the pot carefully and let dry just a little bit on a cutting board over the sink. Whiz your peppercorns and coriander in a blender or spice grinder until it's pretty fine, but not powdery. Dust the seitan  with the flour and rub it in just a little, then press your peppercorn/coriander into the crust. Spray lightly with your aerosol oil, put the loaf into a oiled baking pan, and bake for 45 minutes, occasionally spraying it with more oil.

Looks a bit like an asteroid... a delicious asteroid.

Slice thin and serve with the taters, cabbage and carrots. The EarthBalance gives this a slightly more tender, softer texture than using purely oil. Very tasty. Don't be afraid to reduce a bit of the cooking liquid with a little cornstarch for a simple gravy, if you'd like.

Crunchy, savory, lovely. Enjoy my darlings!


  1. This looks delicious. I can't wait to try it.

  2. Thanks ladies :) I hope you do, come back and let me know how it goes!

  3. Any idea on substituting the tapioca and soy flours? I don't have a place near me where I can find them, and I know I would probably never use them for anything else.

  4. You can use straight gluten flour with no problems - it'll just be a denser loaf. Good luck!

  5. Hello! This week my plan is to make seitan (for the first time!) and when I saw your post in foodbuzz top 9 I loved it! It looks so good! I have a mixture of organic wheat flour, wheat gluten and salt; must I add yeast even in my mixture? Dry brewer's yeast is ok? Thanks and sorry for my bad English! Ps great blog and great pictures!

  6. Hey Lilla! Your english is awesome! What are you talking about! :D

    The nutritional yeast is not for leavening - it is for vitamin content and flavor. Brewer's yeast is different - has a darker, more bitter flavor, and I've never used it in seitan making (so who knows, it could be awesome, and if you use it and it is, do tell us).

    You're going to want to use mostly gluten flour when making seitan unless you're going super-traditional - ie starting with regular flour and washing the carbs away until all you're left with is gluten (I've done this several times and it is pretty time consuming).

    Just remember - the more you add flours other than vital wheat gluten, the softer the loaf will be. Try to keep a 3 parts gluten flour to 1 part "other" flour ratio (at least) for texture's sake. Good luck love!

  7. @Julialikesred

    So would I be able to substitute AP flour or whole wheat flour in place of the tapioca and soy flours then?

    Hopefully this answers any questions about nutritional yeast!

  8. This looks wonderful. I have not made seitan in the crockpot before. I have not had good luck making seitan. Usually it is the texture that I do not like. I will definitely try this. Thanks for sharing. :)

  9. Thanks Kathy :) It's basically braising, one of my fav ways (other than ye olde crock pot, that is) to make seitan. The cool thing about this recipe is the crust - since I, too, get bored with the usual same-all-the-way-through texture, this adds some crunch.

    PC baby, you can use any flours you so desire. The tapioca (super fine - adds a certain silkiness) and soy flours (cuts the bread texture a bit) alter the texture than regular AP flour would - AP flour will just soften the loaf. Whole wheat will give you a slightly grainy texture, and works nicely. Garbanzo or fava flour lends a beany taste - also cool. I'd say if you're set on cutting the gluten flour down, wrap the loaf in cheesecloth before sticking it in the pot to ensure a cohesive ball of gluten at cooking's end.

    There's tons of ways to mess with the basic seitan recipe - I've added TVP, dehydrated veggie flakes, pureed silken tofu, tapioca balls, etc etc to the mix in the past and had interesting results. Eventually I'll get to share all the permutations with you guys, or that's the plan anyways!

  10. Too cool! I haven't tried my had at seitan... yet... this looks amazing though.

    I especially like "me too!" meals. I did a tempeh crab cake a couple of weeks ago that got my unnaturally excited. ;)

  11. Hi Laura!

    I too dig a faux-meat meal every once in a while. Tempeh crab cakes sounds aaaamazing...

  12. Do you think it'd be okay without the addition of beer?

    1. Absolutely. Beer just gives it that nice bite - you could do a little shoyu and water if you prefer!