Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Recipe: Gluten Steaks

As I look for interesting recipes with whole food ingredients, I often come across recipes that go with a certain diet. While I don't follow any of those diets, I have enjoyed many meals that were paleo, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other variations. This week we tried a dish that is usually vegan (but I did a non-vegan version). It was a great find, really easy to make and tasted a lot better than I expected.

Why I Like Vegetarian Meals

While I am not a vegetarian, a lot of our meals are. The trick is to try and get enough of the nutrients that we miss by not eating meat at every meal. But there are a lot of things I don't miss when we aren't eating meat:
  • I find the texture of raw meat rather icky
  • There are a lot more health hazards in raw meat and it takes a bit of work to make sure it is cooked properly (especially with a helpful toddler around).
  • Meat is usually more expensive than alternatives
  • I often have to wonder where my meat came from and what went into it before and after it died, especially if it is on the cheaper side
  • Since I still have a lot to learn when it comes to cooking, I occasionally have a bit of guilt when I make a meal and think "An animal gave it's life so it could become that?"

A High Protein Food


This meal is not gluten-free. In fact, it is about as far as you can get from a gluten free meal (I manage to take a food that is naturally gluten free and substitute it for one that isn't). The main ingredient is vital wheat gluten.

Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to make homemade bread on a regular basis. After deciding I was really committed and could do this, I decided to save by buying things in bulk for a great deal at Azure Standard. So I got a few 5 gallon buckets and gamma lids. It was exciting to feel like I was really getting on top of my food storage goals. It was a great feeling as I brought in those big bags of beans, oats, rice, wheat and vital wheat gluten. While there was a lot of cost up front, I knew I was saving a ton of money in the long run. If we will eat it before it goes bad, why not buy lots at a time?

Apparently my math skills are somewhat lacking. 50 lbs of vital wheat gluten is about two 5-gallon buckets. That isn't a problem, except I use less than 1/4 cup every time I make bread. So now we are eating all our oats, beans and using up the wheat. Meanwhilst, we are barely making a dent in the vital wheat gluten (by the way, if anyone ever wants some, come on over, I have plenty!). I realized that I probably have a few life time supplies if all I ever use it for is bread.

Thankfully, on the site I bought from, there are often recipes accompanying the product description. So as weird as it sounded, I decided to give it a try. Since it is packed with protein (that's what gluten is) and iron, it was worth a shot. Besides, it still only used 1 cup of flour, so it was a lot cheaper than some of my other cooking experiments.

The verdict: It was good and filling. pThe texture reminded me of dumplings, but chewier. It was soft enough that my toddler devoured it without needing to break it in pieces. In the future we will experiment with frying, baking, breading and other common meat methods since the part that got slightly burnt to the bottom of the pan tasted best.

Basic Gluten Steak (adapted from Azure standard)

1 cup vital wheat gluten (gluten flour)
3/4 cup water
beef broth (you could use another type)

1. mix flour and water together. Break or slice into pieces
2. Put slices in broth, cover, and boil for an hour
3. Prepare and serve as desired (we just put ours on a plate with a side of caramelized carrots)

Be aware that the "steaks" expand A LOT. I thought I had plenty of room in the pan I was using, but they filled it (but weren't stuck together). I separated it into 2 pans and they expanded to fill both of them. I think they just fill whatever space they are in and shrink down after they are done (they still end up bigger than they started though).

If the broth all boils away and the dough is stuck to the bottom, just add a little water and it comes right off.

That is all there is to it! Sure is easy and a lot less messy than preparing real meat!

Have you ever tried gluten steaks? Do you have any ideas or suggestions to enhance the basic recipe?

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