In recent weeks, Americans have had a rude awakening about what’s actually in the meat served at fast food restaurants and sold in grocery stores. Pink Slime may be putting the “ew” in news lately, but the real shock is that’s anybody’s surprised. Ground beef and chicken nuggets couldn’t look less like natural pieces of animal, so they are the perfect place to hide the bits that nobody wants to see.
Our widespread cultural approach of willful ignorance about what we put in our bodies is one of many reasons I stopped eating meat. If you want to know exactly what’s in every bite of the protein on your plate, the good news is…you can just make it yourself! And although I wouldn’t categorize this as a “quick and easy” recipe, at least it doesn’t involve an industrial centrifuge.
Seitan is a protein made from wheat that you can season and shape almost any way you want. Here’s a basic seitan recipe, but this week I took it a step further and made my own vegan taco meat. This recipe yields about 4 cups, or eight servings.
- 1.25 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
- 3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Dried Oregano
- 2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
- .75 cups Water
- 4 cups Vegetable Stock + 2 cups Water
- 1 Head Garlic, rinsed
- 1 Onion, rinsed
- 1 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 2 tbsp
- .25 cups Grape Seed Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- We’ll start by making the seitan dough. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (gluten, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili, paprika, oregano), then combine the .75 cups of water and liquid aminos. Pour the water mixture into the gluten mixture and stir immediately, then kneed when stirring becomes difficult. You want to work this dough harder than you would with bread dough to encourage the protein to firm up for a meaty texture. When ingredients are fully incorporated and worked, set aside for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the broth mixture to cook the seitan dough. Combine the 4 cups of vegetable broth and 2 cups of water in a stew pot over medium heat. Cut your garlic bulb in half and pull out several cloves, putting the rest of the bulb into the broth. Mince the cloves you retained. Remove the ends and outer layer of your onion and put those in the broth. Finely dice the onion and save for later. If you have the head of a jalapeno, that can also flavor the broth.
- When the broth boils, reduce heat to a simmer. Take your ball of seitan dough and cut chunks of approximately two inches and put them into the broth. Kitchen scissors are really helpful for this. Let them simmer for 45 minutes. They’ll increase significantly in size and float.
- Intermission. This is a great time to make some homemade salsa!
- Ok, the seitan is done. Remove the chunks with a slotted spoon and use another spoon to press out any excess liquids. Put the cooked seitan and tomato paste into a food processor and pulse until it has taco meat texture.
- Last step. In a large pan over medium heat, sauté the seitan, minced garlic, chopped onion and sesame seeds in the grape seed oil for 10-15 minutes. You can boost the flavor with additional seasonings if you want, plus the salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally, but do allow it to brown.
Now you have a flavorful taco meat that has great texture to use in burritos, on nachos, in taco salad, etc. Here’s the bonus: this recipe has no cholesterol and it’s lower in fat, calories and sodium than taco meat made from lean ground beef.