June 3, 2011

Homemade Seitan Pepperoni

This week, you get a bonus revelation with your standard Friday review. How exciting! I'm delving once again into the crazy world of homemade fake meat. I haven't had great luck with this in the past, but I'm bound to find something eventually that works out.

This time around, it's pepperoni! I found a recipe here that looked promising, picked up the one or two ingredients that I didn't already have on hand (my pantry is awesome!) and got to work. I cut the recipe in half, since I had no idea whether it would work or not. This recipe came together super easily. Took about 15 minutes to mix it up - mix the dry, mix the wet, mix the wet into the dry and knead. For once I didn't even mess with the ingredients. Everything went in as written. The instructions said to roll it into a log, but once I got it all together, there wasn't much shaping to be done - it was incredibly stiff. Plus, the mixture was so tough it started to reject the fennel and mustard seeds - they just kept popping out. I stuck them back in as well as I could, wrapped it in foil, and popped it into the oven.

During the hour it was in the oven, some delicious pepperoni-like smells started to come out of my oven. I started to get pretty optimistic that this might actually be good. I forgot to turn it over halfway, as instructed, but I don't think that mattered. One thing that I think is very important to mention: the recipe says to remove it from the oven and unwrap it - be very careful, because that thing is filled with super hot steam. I totally burned myself when I untwisted the end of the foil. Steam comes shooting out as soon as it has an opening. So wear oven mitts or something - maybe use tongs. Seriously. Be careful.

So, once it cooled down, I cut a slice of it to give it a taste. It was…interesting. It wasn't quite pepperoni, but it was a spicy, chewy thing with fennel. I was a bit underwhelmed, to be honest, considering how good it smelled. I stuck it in the fridge and went about my day.

The next day, I was making a mini pizza for my lunch, and I remembered this was in the fridge. I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but I am a big fan of pepperoni and pineapple pizza. I figured this would be an optimal time to test out the pepperoni in its natural habitat - pizza! So I cut a few thin slices, layered them on the crust with some tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni, and baked it in the oven until the crust was crispy and the cheese was gooey and slightly browned. Yum! Then I had a bite. It was pretty good! Again, not exactly pepperoni, but pretty tasty in its own right. I had a couple more of these pizzas over the next week or so, then over the weekend, a revelation hit.

I now understand the point of fake meat. It isn't meant to perfectly duplicate the experience of eating meat, but instead to evoke feelings of the experience of eating meat. When I was eating the pizza with the seitan pepperoni on it, while it wasn't exactly pepperoni, it was spicy and chewy, which is basically what one gets from eating pepperoni. The only thing missing was the grease factor, which I didn't really miss, personally. This revelation seemed very profound at the time. Maybe everyone else already knew this, but nobody told me, so I'm going to assume I'm first in line here.

I was tempted to end the blog on this note, but I still have a bunch of fake meat in my freezer, so I guess I'll just keep going. At least it all makes a bit more sense now.

The experience:
Texture - Chewy, but not weird-chewy. Pepperoni-chewy.
Flavor - Spicy and fennel-y. I could do without the fennel, personally, but that's just me.

Final grade for this attempt: A

3 comments:

  1. I thought this was pretty decent, but not as good as the Lightlife stuff. I think you should cut down on the fennel and then post your own recipe. :)

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    Replies
    1. I love what you're doing! I am vegan and have an even different take on what most refer to as "fake meats". They not only fill those memories of foods for those brought up with meat, but they also are alternatives for the basis of flavors that people are raised on. Remember when bacon, sausage, ham, used to be exclusively pork? When turkey and chicken were first used there was some backlash. Now turkey/chicken whatever is mainstream, because the meat is really a carrier for the smokey, chewey, fatty tastes. Why not tofu, tempeh, seitan or just beans? Better than Boullion has no chicken, and no beef soup bases that everyone I know thinks tastes just like the real thing without the real thing. It's not the taste of meat that makes the broth good- it's the herbs, the spice blends. No too salty either- try that too!
      I recently tried seitan pepperoni, using vegandads recipe (really similar) and agree on the fennel being too predominant. I would leave it out next time, and I used more red pepper flakes- or the chili sesame oil I get at Asian groceries in place of olive oil. When I bake seitan I use the broiler pans that come with the oven filled with water to steam, turn halfway through and leave in the oven after turning it off in an hour. You are right about it being better the next day. I'd like to make these in 'jerky' sized links.
      Try fatfreevegan.com mushroom seitan next. Very good!

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