Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meatless Wonders Hamburger Replacement

For those just joining us, I wanted to do a little review and also update some new skills in Meatless Wonders 101 (Wheat Meat or Seitan) . We've done the Veggie Dogs (Seitan) and sausage. We've done the meatless chick'n nuggets aka Homemade Quake and Bake with "Chick-un" nuggets .

This Tutorial Tuesday we're going to go one step further and make the hamburger substitute we use around here. Just to review, let me ask, have you ever wondered how meatless meat substitutes are made? You know, the ones that come in a package priced per ounce like gold? Veggie dogs, chick'n nuggets, chick'n patties, veggie sausage, veggie pepperoni...all made from one handy ingredient: Vital Wheat Gluten. In the old days my mom would take fresh ground whole wheat flour, add water and knead it for 15 minutes, and then rinse the starch out of the dough under running water. That would leave this gummy mass of protein that she would use to stretch our food budget by making fake gluten meat. "Seitan" being the technical vegetarian name for it. Seitan...not Satan. If you are on a gluten free diet, this stuff is not for you. I'm good with it. My vegetarian husband's only complaint about Seitan is that it tastes too much like meat! So...let's begin shall we?

I know how to make it that old fashioned way in a pinch, but have found great joy in just buying the gluten protein flour in a can. My favorite local Emergency Food Storage store has it for around 11$ for a #10 can. This makes the equivalent of 10 lbs of meat. So, it's cost effective for me to have vegetarian food stuff. If I bought 10 lbs worth of pre-packaged meatless products, it would cost me right around 50$.

One thing, if you aren't vegetarian and want to use flavoring, I highly recommend using a low sodium broth. If you cook it on the stove until half of the liquid evaporates, it makes wonderfully flavored meat-less meat. Vegetarians can use vegetable stock with great success in this way. If you have a good quality MSG free, low sodium stock powder, you will not need the liquid stock. I make my own stock or purchase already made stock. This box was at our local "dollar" store. So, still very inexpensive. If you don't want to buy the big can of gluten, there are boxes on the baking aisle at most grocery stores (see picture) that sell for a dollar and a half and make 1lb of meatless meat.
Here's my secret recipe. Don't freak out.
1 package (6 1/2 ounces) or 1 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup highly seasoned stock (or 1T MSG free, low sodium bullion plus 1 cup stock)

You will also need:
1-2 feet heavy aluminum foil (don't use the cheap stuff...it won't work as well)
oil or pan spray to keep Seitan from sticking to the foil (easy release foil works wonders!)
4 quart crock pot ( or solar oven) and a quart of water

Combine the stock with the gluten powder.
Mix about 2 minutes until a gummy mass is made and there isn't any dryness left.
Take one cup of the mixture and place on 1 1/2 feet of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with a non-stick coating or oil. I use oil.

Roll into a tight log...
Twist the ends of the foil tightly.
It will look like a hamburger chub. This is called a force meat. It is wonderfully effective in producing a very firm texture similar to meat. I've seen gluten cooked other ways, but have never had a great love for the textures in other cooking methods.
You can bake the chubs in the oven on a sheet pan 250 degrees for 3 hours. I prefer to immerse in a 4 quart crock pot full of water or take out to Solar Oven in a water filled 4 quart dark pot. Turn crock pot to high setting and cook 2-3 hours. Solar oven 3-4 hours. The lower cooking time I use for thin sausages and hot dogs.
What do I do with the chub once it is cooked? Well, it's like a roll of cooked meat. I cube it up and use it anywhere a recipe calls for chicken pieces (casseroles, stews, over rice etc.) Sliced it can be eaten like meat medallions with any sauce or gravy or breaded and turned into chicken nuggets. If you make smaller chubs you can add sausage seasonings and make anything you would use sausage with like pizza, Italian dinners, breakfast burritos. For a more ground burger texture, I would go with TVP or run the gluten through a meat grinder after making and cooking it into the chub. This would give you a meatier texture. There is no cholesterol at all in this "meat" so it's heart healthy. Very little fat (half a gram in 1/3 cup)and it adds that texture of meat at a fraction of the cost. Plus, it's easier to store a can of gluten than 10lbs of meat in your food storage. It isn't meat, so the texture won't be exactly like meat, but it's very very close.
There you go.

Seitan Nutritional information
1/3 cup (30g)
Calories: 160
Protein: 23g
Carbohydrate: 11g
Total Fat: 0.5g
Fiber: 2g

For the Hamburger replacement I have found a great love for highly seasoned broth with the addition of 1/4 cup dry onion to the liquid ingredients and 1T of Pero powder for a natural caramel color. It just goes without saying that grey meat was never very appetizing...even fake meat. This is how you grind it:

I have a hand powered meat grinder...that ironically has never been used for meat. I cut the pieces of cooked seitan and feed them through the top of the grinder. By weight I figure 14 oz of the ground product to equal a pound of hamburger. If I'm making the Hamburger "helper" Stroganoff Skillet Meal Mix (and there will be several to follow), I cook the noodles with the mix and milk, then fold in the hamburger replacement at the end of cooking time.

It freezes beautifully in quart size baggies too. So, there you have it. Burger replacement...at a fraction of the cost of meat.


Donna said...

Tess, once you cook the chubs, can you freeze them? How else would you store them?

Chef Tess said...

You can freeze them. I take them out of the foil and put them in freezer bags if I'm just freezing them whole. Or, if you make them into the 'burger replacement, grind it and then bag it in freezer bags in portions you can use. In that way it's a great grab and use item. Great question!

Lynn said...

Hi Tess,
I made seitan yesterday and had to run to the store, so I cooked it over 3 hours. It was really tough. Like rubber. Did the longer time make it so tough? If I cut down the time would it make it more tender?

Chef Tess said...

If it seems rubbery, it is usually because there wasn't enough water. Increase the water by a few Tablespoons. Xoxo!