We made our own seitan for the first time a couple of weeks ago, with a recipe for spicy Italian vegetarian sausages, and they came out quite good. However, in my years as an omnivore, I made real Italian pork sausages (luganega), duck sausages, lamb sausages, lobster sausages and fish sausages — you get the idea. With my memory of those tastes and textures still accessible, it’s probably not surprising that we still prefer vegan foods for themselves, and try to avoid dishes which resemble vegan substitutes for meat and dairy. Nonetheless, I do keep experimenting, and last night I tried out Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks. Here is the report.
Leeks and shiitakes are among my favorite plant foods, so this seemed to be an attractive option. I followed her recipe pretty much as written, with a few exceptions — no pinto beans on the shelf (substituted cannelini), and reduced amounts of soy sauce and fennel (to suit Barbara). The exciting part is when I mix the vital wheat gluten with the liquids and suddenly have a mass of seitan to play with in my stainless bowl.
Anyway, we rolled up the leek-shiitake-breadcrumb-herb stuffing mixture inside the seitan, wrapped it all in sheets of aluminum foil, and baked it at 350° F for 90 minutes. While it was cooling, I oven-roasted small red potatoes on a bed of coarse salt (an amazing recipe, simple and absolutely delicious), sauteed separately carrots, peas and green beans, and then made my own vegan gravy to pour over the roast.
The gravy turned out to be interesting. Started by sautéing chopped onion and garlic in about 3 Tbs. of olive oil. Next, I added almost 1/4 cup of flour and 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast. This seized up in the pan so I had to add 2 Tbs. more of oil, then cooked slowly until the flour was golden. At that point I added hot homemade vegetable stock, whisking it in to get the consistency saucy enough. I was surprised that it tasted good and remained stable, so it could be spooned over the seitan slices on the plate. The only other addition was to add some reheated braised cabbage to my plate (Barbara and Johnny passed on that delectable from Molly Stevens’ All About Braising book.)
If you have ever made or eaten a veal roast, I can tell you that this is NOT the same. But, it IS a tasty dish, and it will certainly evoke some of the same gustatory sensations. The only change we would make next time is to roast it for only 60-70 minutes. This version came out almost too firm at 90 minutes. In fact, Isa initially made hers in 60, but she increased the time in response to readers’ comments, and I was leery too, of undercooking it.
It will probably not surprise you that I selected a red wine to accompany this meal. It was a 2009 Valpolicella Superiore, Latium Morini, titled Campo Prognai. It was fine, but almost too rich and full-bodied for the dish. A slightly lighter one — I imagine not a Superiore — would be better next time.