Tuesday, December 31
Country Fried Seitan with Onion Gravy, Mac & Cheese and Garlic Green Beans
We couldn’t decide what to have for a New Year’s Eve dinner. We never go out to eat on NYE because so many places do limited menus, and generally, even someplace that normally has vegan options won’t on their “special” menu. Also, it seems like those dinners are always overpriced and underwhelming. Anyway. We normally just cook a special meal at home, but this year we couldn’t decide, so we went for comfort food. I would not file this under “healthy vegan meals”, but it was good, and cozy and just right. First, I made seitan cutlets using the recipe in Veganomicon. Seth commented once when I made this dish before that the seitan was too thick, so I flattened the cutlets before cooking them by placing them between two sheets of waxed paper and putting a cutting board on top, then piling some cookbooks on it and letting it sit for about 15 minutes. It got them a lot thinner than I could have by hand. Once they were cooked, I set them aside to cool and prepped the rest of the meal. The mac & cheese needed to bake for about half an hour, so I made that next. I base my “recipe” on one in The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy, which is more or less the way my mom used to make mac & cheese – using a milk, flour, cheese combo and then baking it. I use about 8 oz of elbow macaroni and it makes quite a bit, especially since there are just two of us and we don’t eat a lot of this kind of thing. I use about a cup of non-dairy milk (unsweetened, of course), a couple of tablespoons of flour, some salt, pepper and an unholy amount Daiya cheese (about half a bag). Normally, I use the pepperjack flavor, but we were out, so I went with cheddar, which I happened to have an unopened package of in the fridge. Since we like it spicy and there was no pepperjack to be had, I added some chipotle powder and some crushed red pepper. It was creamy, ooey, gooey goodness. After I had that in the oven, I got the country portion of the country fried going. No. Not country music. I can’t get with that. Just the breading and frying and gravy-making. I used a recipe I found on VegWeb, and it’s really quite good and easy to do. I used whole wheat bread crumbs, because that’s normally what we have on hand – I think they have more flavor than plain and hey, whole wheat makes them healthy right? We buy Whole Foods generic brand because, believe it or not, most other brands I see in stores have eggs in them for reasons I have yet to fathom. Anyway, I had to use more oil than we like to for these, but I drained them on a paper towel and popped them in the toaster oven to keep warm while I made the gravy and beans. The gravy would have been a LOT better if I’d done it right. I was pretty distracted and somehow forgot that I’d sliced up some onion specifically for the gravy. I put the milk & flour in the pan, then added a bunch of black pepper (this is the South and gravy must be heavy on the pepper) when I noticed the pile of onion sitting on the cutting board. So, I threw it in the gravy and let it cook until it was soft. Whatever. It was still good. The beans were a two step process. First, I steamed them while the seitan steaks were frying, then I sautéed them in a little olive oil with a lot of garlic (a few cloves, pressed directly into the skillet) and a bit of salt and crushed red pepper. We indulged a lot during the holidays this year and we really need to get back to healthier eating. Sounds like a pretty common resolution I think.