Monday, July 11, 2011

Spicy Hickory Maple Seitan Bacon

Those of you who know me, know my take on faux meats. Aside from a torrid love affair with commercially-made faux chicken nuggets (oh my pretties how I long to smother you in hot sauce), I don't try especially hard to mimic the real thing - I'm more concerned with the experience of food. I miss sausages because my Dad used to cart home pounds of freshly made Hungarian kolbasz and hurka...stuffed in a suitcase for the flight home from Montreal to the Maritimes, I kid you not. It was passed around the table as something special, something we ate together. I miss ground beef because I miss burgers on the grill, not because I long for the flavor of cow. Hey, that`s just me, you do what you want. So when it comes to working with meat alternatives, yes, I do try to mimic the flavor to some extent - but let`s face it, nothing about wheat gluten could fool a carnivore into thinking it`s meat. Enjoy it for what it is; a high-protein, versatile addition to your cooking repertoire. And for those of us vegheads out there, it`s a way to connect with foods and experiences we long to recreate.

All to say, I`ve recently stumbled across several faux bacon recipes, and was intrigued by the unique pairing of red and white doughs to recreated the marbled effect of bacon. Hmmm...culinary challenge indeed. In creating this version, I decided to bypass the technique of blending in pre-prepared soy bacon bits for added flavoring. Really...blech if you ask me. I`m sure it tastes more like bacon, but I think we can do better than artificial bacon flavor additives. I decided to focus on the flavors of maple syrup for a little sweetness and pureed chipotle peppers for its rich smoky flavor and deep red color.

If you don`t care to follow the steps to make it look similar to bacon, mix everything in a bowl and carry on. Otherwise, check out this creative take on veg bacon. And when it`s done, go nuts...fry slices in a skillet or chop it into cubes and bake in the oven (think salad topping). I`m hungry all over again.

Makes a 19 oz loaf, approx 24 slices.

In seperate bowls, mix the following dry ingredients:

red dough                              white dough
1 cup vital wheat gluten        1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup soy flour                   1 Tbsp soy flour
1 Tbsp garlic powder              1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder     
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt

In seperate bowls, mix the following wet ingredients:

red dough                       white dough
2/3 cup cold water         1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp cold water
1 Tbsp olive oil               1 tsp olive oil
1-3 chipotle peppers
     (pureed and try to remove seeds)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp liquid smoke

Mix together the white dough wet and dry ingredients, and knead for 2-3 minutes. Dust a clean surface with wheat gluten, and roll out the dough. Now do the same for the red dough.

Here's where you get to be creative. Layer the red and white doughs, cut them into pieces if necessary. In the bacon pictured, I alternated 3 layers of red with 2 layers of white. I used the final layer to cover the entire loaf.

Place a sheet of foil on a baking tray, and cover liberally with cooking spray. Place your bacon on the tray, and cover with another sheet of sprayed foil, oiled side facing the bacon. Place a plate or cutting board on top, and carefully balance something heavy on it - I used 2 heavy jars of peanut butter. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

Remove your weight and cutting board, and bake in a 315 degree oven for 45 minutes. It may appear slightly underdone, and 'give' to the touch, but that's ok, you'll be frying up the slices later. Remove your foil for the last 15 minutes of baking, but be sure the top doesn't get too brown. Cool, then slice! If freezing, cover in plastic wrap and put in a freezer baggie.

Note: if you decide to omit the chipotles and black pepper to cut out the spice, replace with 1-2 Tbsp of water or tomato paste. Best used fried or baked - if used in a dish with a sauce, baked seitan will absorb too much liquid and be a bit could try adding at the last minute, but a smoky tofu-based 'bacon' would be best. Recipe to come  :-)

Per 2 slices: 83 cals, 2g fat, 5g carbs, 211mg sodium, 0g fiber, 11g protein.  (PRO44.8/54%,CHO20.1/24%,FAT18.5/22%)