We can't really talk about vegan Thanksgiving without mentioning Tofurky. There's an unbelievably thrilling moment in a vegan's life when a Tofurky roast is first discovered. Sure, we may be all alone at a table full of meat-eaters making jokes about what's on our plate, but each mouthful of that vegan roast brings more than just satiety; it's a bite of solidarity with the rest of the vegan community.
But like most things, we can grow tired of the Tofurky feast year after year. Just like heritage turkeys are making a comeback on traditional Thanksgiving menus, there's reason to embrace the DIY route to vegan faux meat nirvana as well. So, wanna wow your guests with a totally satisfying made-it-all-by-your-super-self vegan seitan roast, this year? Read on...
My recipe is modified over time from the Post Punk Kitchen's Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks. I learned how to make my own seitan from the girls at the PPK and what a moment that was! So easy and so much cheaper than the store-bought stuff. Seitan is a wheat product made from the pure protein-rich gluten part of the grain, so it is not a choice for those with gluten sensitivities. It is, however, a staple for many vegans. It's high in protein and unlike soy, not at risk for being genetically modified. It's got a terrific meaty texture that's been known to satisfy many meat-eaters as well as vegans.
The roast takes a bit of time in assembling, but like all good food, it's worth the labor. The chestnut stuffing is my own personal recipe developed over years of determination for making a holy-wow vegan stuffing coupled with my recent obsession with chestnuts. They possess the true flavor of the season for me and I highly recommend using them as often as you can this year as they're only around for a short time.
2 cups vital wheat gluten (Bob's Red Mill is a great option) 3/4 cup thoroughly cooked pinto beans, brown or red lentils, or chickpeas (or a bit of each)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
4 tablespoons nama shoyu or tamari
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup nutritional yeast 1 teaspoon each: dried rosemary, thyme, sage & marjoram
Fresh black pepper
*Several sprigs of fresh herbs and twine for rolling
½ loaf of your favorite crusty sourdough or whole grain bread (about 4 cups)
½ cup coconut oil, melted (you can also use olive oil or Earth Balance vegan butter substitute)
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup carrot, diced
½ crimini, shiitake or mushroom of your choice thinly sliced (not a mushroom fan? try subbing in leeks, fennel, rutabaga or turnip)
2/3 cup cooked, shelled chestnuts, rough chop (freshly roasted chestnuts are ideal, but jarred will do if not available)
2/3 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoons each: fresh sage leaves, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves and marjoram leaves, rubbed good and chopped fine
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
Cube the bread and allow to dry on a large baking pan. You can do this several days in advance leaving out at room temperature or turn your oven to the lowest setting and put pan with cubes in, turning several times until crispy.
In a sauté pan, add the celery, carrots and mushrooms and coconut oil, cooking over medium-low heat until veggies are tender. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, mix in cooked vegetables, dried bread cubes, chestnuts, herbs and add vegetable stock—a little at a time—stirring until evenly coated. Add more stock as needed, avoiding making it soupy. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl (gluten, yeast and spices).
Combine beans, broth, olive oil and tamari in a food processor and blend until smooth. When finished, add the wet ingredients into the dry mix.
As you mix the ingredients, it will begin to form a thick ball of dough. Knead it until uniform and ready to roll out. (Let it rest for a minute or two before next step.)
Gluten is very sticky so it can be a bit tough to work with, but a little patience and practice brings success. On a clean and flat surface, use a rolling pin to roll the gluten out to approximately a 12 x 12 inch square. Keep rolling if the dough bounces back, and pinch off pieces of dough to fix any tears. Use scissors or knife to help create a square shape, saving the cuttings for tear repair when rolling.
Now lay down your filling. You have options. If you want it truly "stuffed" then just cover the lower 1/3 of the roast with the stuffing. If you prefer a roulade, cover the entire gluten sheet with the stuffing pressing down with your hands so it is dense and compact.
Next, holding on to two corners closest to you, start folding the dough over so you can roll the roast with the stuffing inside away from you. Roll slow and tight. Repair any tears with excess seitan, or try pinching together with your fingers to see if it self-repairs (which gluten can do).
Tie each end of the roast with the twine wrapping the string around the roast to meet in the middle. Stuff herb sprigs in the twine flat against the roast. Brush with a bit of olive oil and wrap the entire roast in aluminum foil with the fold at the top. Set on pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes, rotating the pan every 20 minutes or so for even cooking. After about an hour, when it feels very firm and "done," carefully open the foil and liberally coat with any excess broth and let bake another 10-15 minutes unwrapped until slightly crisped.
When done baking, let it cool, undo the twine, slice and serve with a vegan gravy and all the holiday meal fixins.
*Note – For whatever reason, I greatly dislike both onions and garlic. So they are omitted from this recipe. If you're a fan of either or both, I will not hold it against you. And you can add them in as follows: 2 cloves garlic minced into your seitan roast and 1 small onion diced in the stuffing.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger