Could it beeeeeeeee….. SEITAN?!?!?!?!

People, you have no idea how long I have been hanging on to that title.

When I first heard of “wheat meat,” I was thrilled—a soy-free version of tofu? Yes, please! Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten and is basically wheat-based protein, all the carbo-dross removed. Just like I’m not allergic to lard, I’m not allergic to wheat, so seitan should be perfect, right? But then every recipe I found for seitan involved soy: soy flour, soy sauce, soy oil, soy-based broth mixes, soy yadda. It was like that time I bought a jar of Nutella as a substitute for peanut butter, ate a spoonful before reading the ingredients (yeah, I know, that was dumb), then was left wondering why my throat was closing up.

Anyway, I couldn’t just find some full-time vegan’s seitan recipe and link to it, because none of them would have worked for my soy-sensitivity. Correction: I think I found one or two that suggested substituting the soy sauce with kombu, which sounds delicious, but out here in the sticks, kombu there is none. Nutritional yeast, however….

Basic Slow Cooker Soy-Free Seitan

1 ½ c vital wheat gluten
4 ½ T nutritional yeast
2 t garlic powder
2 t curry powder
1 t powdered ginger
1 ¼ c + 2 T soy-free vegetable broth (mine was homemeade and dug out of the freezer)
1 ½ T olive oil
6 c vegetable broth + 4 c water (I will so reduce this next time, but more on that later)

In a medium bowl, mix together gluten, nutritional yeast, garlic, curry, and ginger. With a wooden spoon, stir in 1 ¼ c + 2 T broth and olive oil, until mixture comes together in a rubbery blob. Knead with your hands until all the wet and dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Let rest for five minutes while you pour the remaining broth and water into a large slow cooker. Return to the seitan mixture and cut into six portions. Knead each portion lightly and stretch into a “cutlet” shape (if you poke a few holes in the “cutlet” in the process, don’t worry about it—just let it be). Slowly drop each cutlet into the slow cooker broth, then cook on high 2-4 hours, low 4-5 hours, until the cutlets rise to the top when gently stirred. With a slotted spoon, remove each cutlet from the broth and drain on a wire baking rack over dishtowels that you’re willing to throw in the wash shortly thereafter. When dry, you can freeze them (the seitan, not the dishtowels) or use them in any number of seitan recipes available on the Web.

I froze all but one of the cutlets when I made these Wednesday. The other one I patted dry, cut into about six “nuggets,” dredged those in a flour-paprika-salt-pepper mixture, dipped in milk, then dipped back in the flour mix. I let them dry on the wire rack for about ten minutes while the cast iron pan heated up about a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of palm shortening (to raise the smoke point). Then I panfried the nuggets and served them to Second Shift of Kid, who was running a fever, had just woken up from a nap, and I would have expected to be in no mood to eat, given how picky she is on a good day. She finished two of them with precious little prompting. I ate the rest and waited for some sort of reaction, either hives, wheezing, or digestive distress. There was none. Miracle of miracles.

You know those other cutlets I froze? Today I thawed four of them, chopped them up and threw them in the mini-crock with some corn, water and taco seasoning. I will update later once I get First Shift’s verdict on Seitan Tacos.

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UPDATE: First Shift was unimpressed, but then again they don’t like taco meat when it’s actually meat, so this may have been an unfair introduction. Mr Mackerelsnapper did like it, however, and is looking forward to trying it in nugget form or in a curry.

And I forgot: the amount of broth for cooking the seitan is waaay too much. I’m pretty sure you can just cover it with a bit of head room up top, and that should be enough. The cutlets will swell, but not so much that they bloat up completely.

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About Erin McCole Cupp
Erin McCole Cupp is a wife, mother, and lay Dominican who lives with her family of vertebrates somewhere out in the middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania. Her short writing has appeared in Canticle Magazine, The Catholic Standard and Times, Parents, The Philadelphia City Paper, The White Shoe Irregular, Outer Darkness Magazine, and the newsletter of her children’s playgroup. She is a contributor to CatholicMom.com and has been a guest blogger for the Catholic Writers Guild. Her other professional experiences include acting, costuming, youth ministry, international scholar advising, and waiting tables. When Erin is not writing, cooking or parenting, she can be found reading, singing a bit too loudly, sewing for people she loves, gardening in spite of herself, or dragging loved ones to visitors centers at tourist spots around the country. Find out more about her novels and other projects at erinmccolecupp.com .

8 Responses to Could it beeeeeeeee….. SEITAN?!?!?!?!

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