We don't eat a lot of meat. As in, we (The Simple Man and I) eat fish maybe ten times a year. The girls are vegetarian. I don't eat anything beyond that and he will sometimes eat chicken when it is served somewhere else. We both grew up vegetarian, so I don't even know how to cook meat. We also aren't big bean lovers, and try not to eat soy, so trying to get some protein can be challenging.
I've always known about seitan, or wheat meat, but never ate much of it. Then I started buying it occasionally and was pretty shocked at how expensive it was. I knew you could make it, but I thought it was a long and complicated process involving many "washes" of whole wheat flour, and there was no way I was going to do that. I already make most of our food from scratch; fiddling with gluten for hours at a time time seemed really, really unattractive. And depressing. A friend mentioned that there was a way to do it using vital wheat gluten that was supposed to be easier, but she hadn't tried it. So I went searching. And found this. It was good, but the soy sauce overwhelmed it. I shared the recipe with my mom and she called me up, excited, because she had made it chicken flavored. And voila - our new seitan favorite was born.
Chicken Flavored Seitan
3 cups vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 cups cold vegetable broth (I use a half jar of Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base V)
1 tbsp mashed garlic
Um...a dollop of tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt (approx.)
20 cups very cold water or broth (I use about 5 Rapunzel bouillon cubes here)
You could use your own homemade broth. Or if you are really ambitious, your own bouillon cubes, and PLEASE tell me how you make them because I cannot find a good recipe anywhere for homemade, vegetarian, bouillon cubes. I like the seitan to be highly flavored because it's kind of ...blah otherwise, and I'm not convinced that my homemade broth would do it, but I'd love to hear feedback on this. I am, as usual, very loose with my measurements in terms of how many bouillon cubes I use.
In a bowl mix together the gluten and nutritional yeast flakes. In another bowl mix the 2 cups broth, tomato sauce, and garlic. Put the wet ingredients into the bowl with the gluten and yeast, mix well. This is when I add the tsp. salt. I typically end up kneading it with my hands for a few minutes until all ingredients are incorporated and then patting it into a log shape.
To get the right texture the 20 cups of water has to be very cold. At this time of year, if I think I'm making seitan that day, I make the broth with the bouillon cubes, in the morning, and leave it outside. If you have a freezer big enough you could put the stockpot in there. Hours later, when I make the seitan, I can just grab the broth and use it right away. I cut the seitan into pieces and put it in the cold broth. Then I cover it and turn on the stove to high. I leave it on high until it boils (this takes a while) then I lower the heat until simmering, and leave it for an hour, mixing it occasionally. When the hour is up I turn it off and leave it until room temperature before jarring it with the broth. I leave one jar in the refrigerator and freeze the rest. It makes about five to six 32 oz. jars.
I was in a rush and the water wasn't as cold as it should have been, so you
can see that the seitan is way more crumbly than it would normally be.
Oh, and this is an absolutely ugly food. The Simple Man urged me NOT to post pictures because it looked like "brains" but I was undeterred. I think if you are going to make your own seitan, you are intrepid enough not to be put off by psuedo brains. Besides, a little fake brains never hurt anyone. Real brains on the other hand...shudder.