Turkeys aren't very thankful when it comes to Thanksgiving due to the fact that they all know that they are going to be the Main Course in most households across North America on the 4th Thursday in November every year. As a longtime dedicated vegan, I am always looking for main course alternatives to meat, poultry, and fish.
Seitan (pronounced say-tahn) is not to be confused with Satan, which is also known as The Devil. Seitan isn't evil; it's just misunderstood.
Seitan has been around for centuries, but for the average consumer, it seems it is only now a new revelation. Seitan is also known as Meat Of Wheat, as it is made using vital wheat gluten.
Making your own seitan isn't as complicated as most people assume it is. It can take a long time, if you make it completely from scratch (which involves isolating the wheat gluten on your own by starting with 8 cups of white flour and 8 cups of whole wheat flour mixed with water to form a dough and then washing and rinsing the dough until all the water runs clear, which can take several hours.)
Over the years, I have tried many, many seitan recipes and all of them fell short somehow, so I developed this recipe using a lot of trial and error, but now I think it has reached Perfection as well as an award-winning status :)
Lucky for all of you, there are shortcuts that make this very easy to make (!) The key to this recipe is the gravy. If your gravy is good, your seitan will also taste good.
We all like easy and uncomplicated recipes, especially during the hectic holiday season when time always runs out at the most inopportune moments.
heavy duty aluminum foil
food processor with a "S"-blade
Steamer* (You can use a big pot with a lid and a colander instead if that is all you have)
can opener (if you are using canned garbanzo beans)
spoon or spatula for stirring
3 c Vital Wheat Gluten Flour (I use Bob's Red Mill, but use whatever you can find)
1-15 oz can organic garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or dried garbanzo beans that have been fully cooked, drained and rinsed)
2 c Herbed Gravy* (see below)
Herbed Gravy Ingredients:
1/4 c vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance Original, either Buttery Spread or Buttery Sticks)
1/2 c fresh minced herbs of choice (rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, etc)
2 TBSP dried herbs of choice (usually a mixture of Organic Poultry Seasoning and Kirkland Organic No Salt Seasoning from Costco)
2 vegan chicken-style bouillon cubes (I use No-Chicken Bouillon Cubes from Edward & Sons)
4 c plain unsweetened nondairy milk (I use almond milk)
1/4 c Tapioca Flour (Bob's Red Mill or other brand)
1-2 tsp garlic granules or powder
1-2 tsp onion powder or flakes
salt & pepper, to taste* (FYI: Bouillon cubes are salty, so you probably won't need to add any additional salt)
Melt margarine/heat oil in a saucepan on low heat. Add minced herbs. Dissolve corn starch/tapioca starch/flour in 3 c cold, plain, unsweetened almond or other nondairy milk . Add to saucepan, along with vegan bouillon cube dissolved in water, garlic, onion powder & salt & pepper, if desired . Stir continuously on medium heat until gravy thickens. Use to make Tender Seitan Slices with Herbed Gravy.
Now that you have the recipe, lets get started!
You will want to make the gravy first. Once made, set it aside and allow to cool (It can be warm, but if it is too hot, you will burn your hands when trying to knead the seitan..).
Set up your food processor with the "S"-Blade.
Prepare garbanzo beans by draining and rinsing off with cool water in a colander.
Add garbanzo beans to the food processor bowl and pulse for 30-45 seconds, or until they are well chopped (but not pureed).
Add cooled gravy to pulsed garbanzo beans.
Pulse again for 30-45 seconds or until well blended.
Slowly add vital wheat gluten flour to the food processor a cup at a time.
You know when it's done when it starts to form a ball of soft, stretchy, slightly shiny dough.
Remove from food processor and knead for 3-5 minutes or until smoothed out. Cover, and allow to rest 30 minutes. Meanwhile, start a pot of water to boil or set up a steamer.
Break into 4 smaller balls of dough and roll out into logs.
Wrap tightly in foil and steam seitan for 1 hour and 15 minutes. (Note: Depending on your steamer size, you may not be able to fit all of them in there at once. That's OK, but make sure all your raw seitan is wrapped in foil until ready to be steamed. It is best to steam it as soon as possible though, because it doesn't turn out as well if you wait more than a couple of hours to steam it).
Carefully remove foil packet from steam, unwrap and allow to cool slightly before slicing.
After being steamed and sliced, place slices in a lightly greased baking dish, completely cover slices with Vegan Herbed Gravy, then cover dish with foil and bake at 350ºF for 60-90 minutes.
Serve alongside other veganized Thanksgiving foods (such as mashed potatoes, festive cranberry relish, candied yams, wild rice stuffing, and if you are not stuffed, gluten-free vegan pumpkin or pecan pie(!)
Happy Thanksgiving (especially from the turkeys)!