An Adventure in Seitan, with Roasted Redskin Potatoes and Broccoli.

My baby had a bad day yesterday. It happens in the restaurant biz, and when the “Really nothing can pick me up from a day like this” type texts started coming in, I knew I had to at least make an effort. The best way I know to cheer people up is with food and listening to their venting, and normally Dane doesn’t want to talk about work when he’s had a bad day. Food it was.

Now, at my house we’ve been wanting to make seitan for a while. Soul Vegetarian down in the Virginia-Highlands area use seitan for their “meats” and the boys have been pretty enamored. I have been sold on this wheat meat since my first trip to My Thai Vegan Cafe in Boston’s Chinatown, as I went to Emerson College literally two blocks away from it. To add to the intrigue is the protein content; Brandon has been wanting to bulk up, and so we’ve been researching the best vegan protein sources. He’s even been making protein energy balls from recipes I found him! And they’re wicked, wicked good.

Lots of great stuff in there, including quinoa, lentil flour, goji berries… For those of you who don’t know, seitan is the top protein source per ounce period, vegan or non-vegan. 3 oz of seitan is a whopping 31 grams of protein. You need double that amount of steak to get you to 42g, and a 3.5 oz breast of chicken is 30g. For vegan comparisons, you need a whole cup of tempeh to get you to 41g of protein–which, is fine by me! Love that stuff.

Anyway, We bought the vital wheat gluten a couple weeks ago and have been more than ready to give it a shot. I’ve been reading up on how to make it at home as much as possible, and yet I didn’t knead it enough. The kneading and pounding and stretching and beating the hell out of it is what causes that great texture, the “strands” if you will that makes it so similar to meat. I also heard last night that freezing, thawing, beating, re-freezing, re-thawing, re-beating… is kind of the trick. Next time I try, I’ll definitely let you all know!

I cut the loaf into three pieces to simmer in the broth, and once they came out of their 45 minute bath and rested for another 15, I began the experimentation. One cutlet I kept a cutlet, another I made into thin strips (above), and the third was thicker chunks which would have been ideal for fajitas. If any of you are wondering, I saved the broth they simmered in for next time.

We used PPK’s recipe for our first go-round, except I used teriyaki instead of soy sauce (we’re out–I’m embarrassed) and I used our bouillon to make the broth. The taste? Delicious, incredibly well-received. Again, I messed up the texture but I have learned for next time! The guys still really loved it.

That’s Brandon’s hand shown for scale–and his hand is twice the size of mine. That seitan cutlet was easily 45 grams of protein. Once the seitan was out of the broth, strained, and cut up, it got a quick saute.

We all sampled all the different cuts to see which we liked best. I loved all of them for different purposes, and I DEFINITELY want to try slicing a big loaf of it for “deli meat” in sandwiches in the future. I’m just so excited about it because of the protein content and how amazingly cheap it is. All of that took only a cup of wheat gluten flour.

I also roasted up some redskin potatoes with broccoli, garlic, and white onion because Dane really loves potatoes. Roasting potatoes can be kind of a pain, but the trick is to cut them up relatively small and to make sure they’re coated in the oil you choose. That way you don’t have to use a lot of it and everything bakes nice and even. I had these in the oven on 375 for about 40 minutes, tossing them around about half way and at the last ten minutes. For seasoning, I used garlic, s & p, and some rosemary leaves would be amazing in here.

So I made him a plate and sat down, told him I wanted to know which cut he thought was best, and I believe afterward he said something along the lines of “I never want to eat anything else again.”

I was just so glad I could turn his night around a little bit! He really cheered up. I feel like a “meat and potatoes” meal can have that effect on people because being satiated with great-tasting, filling food is just so satisfying. God damn it food is so awesome.

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