BBQ Pulled ‘Pork’ (Seitan!)

It was Ben’s birthday a couple of weeks ago and as one of his (many!) presents, I bought him some vital wheat gluten flour. ‘Great gift…’ I hear you cry! But, it was in fact, an awesome gift. Because vital wheat gluten is pretty pricey and it’s not something he’d ever order from himself so he was chuffed to bits when he opened it, mainly because I think he then knew he had many seitan-based dinners on the horizon.

The first thing I wanted to make with the flour was BBQ Pulled Seitan 😀 We were watching Diners, Drive Ins and Dives (when are we not) and for probably the 276th time, I watched somebody making pulled pork. It always looks soooooo good! I decided I wanted to recreate it for Benj and what better meat substitute than seitan? Seriously, there IS no better meat substitute. Seitan is chewy, textured and just plain MEATY! And it takes on flavour really, really well.

We decided to turn the BBQ pulled seitan into an entire American evening, complete with Disney videos on Youtube (our newest obsession)  and summer-y drinks. To accompany the rolls, we made chilli cheese fries and had onion rings, corn on the cob and coleslaw on the side.

First up, I had to actually make the seitan! I used the Fat Free Vegan BBQ Seitan Ribz recipe as I figured I was going to be chopping the meat up into little pieces at the end anyway.

Here are the dry and wet ingredients ready to be mixed…Ben said it looked pretty disgusting. He is correct.

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The dough comes together very quickly and is super hard to knead. It doesn’t knead like normal bread dough, it kind of just forms a ball and then stays like that. I couldn’t really flatten the shape or make it fit the size of the tray like the recipe said to, so I just formed it into a rectangle and left it! Onto an oiled tray and into the oven for 15 minutes; I had no idea what was expected to come out but hoped for the best.

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I think it looks a bit like brains :/

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15 minutes later I pulled what can only be described as a BEAST out of the oven. Eeek! This photo was taken as it had started to deflate too, it was HUGE!

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We flipped it over and popped it back into the oven for 5 minutes to give it a chance to CALM THE HELL DOWN.

When I took it out again it was slightly less terrifying and I was able to baste it with BBQ sauce and put it back into the oven for its’ final hit of heat. The next time I took it out, it actually looked pretty good! And it smelled AMAZING. So if you do try this recipe, you just really need to persevere with the seitan because it is a funny old thing but it does come together eventually.

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Close-up! See, appetising!!

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I left the seitan to cool for a little while before I sliced it up. Whilst I waited, I indulged in a little of this:

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(Passionfruit juice and vodka)

And Benj indulged in a little of this:

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(Margarita)

It was Saturday night! Hey, can you tell we like Disney? I’m not sure it’s obvious enough.

Once about 10 minutes had passed, I sliced up the seitan into lots of small chunks. I wanted to get the look and feel of pulled pork but it was tricky because the seitan didn’t ‘pull apart’ as such, I just had to do it manually. But once it was all doused in BBQ sauce and sticky, it really looked the part.

 

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I then popped it into a pan and fried it on high for a few minutes to encourage some crisping and browning of the edges, before adding a liberal amount of BBQ sauce. It all came together beautifully in the pan and with a bit of added water to make the BBQ sauce go further, it was starting to look fantastic.

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See?

We served the pulled seitan with the aforementioned sides and I was so pleased with how it turned out. Ben never thought he’d be able to sample this authentic American delight and here he was, with a plate in front of him!!

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For the chilli cheese fries, I just used some leftover frozen chips we had in the freezer, topped with veggie chilli (veggie mince, taco seasoning, chilli powder and passata) and my homemade nacho cheese sauce which I have perfected over recent months and I’m now very proud of!! It’s a basic roux, with added plastic cheese slices, garlic and a few glugs of brine from a jar of jalapeno peppers. The brine gives it a lovely heat and to me, it tasted exactly like the plasticy nacho cheese sauce found in many an Orlando restaurant/quick-service place. Try it, it’s so easy! We tried to buy Squeeze Cheeze to make our lives even easier but tragically, Asda didn’t have any 😦 I topped the cheese fries with some chopped spring onion, but you have to call them scallions to make it all authentic and American.

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We then have corn on the cob, beautifully cooked by Benjamin with liberal amounts of butter and salt and some oven baked onion rings, which I dipped in sour cream. A lot of sour cream. Like, half the tub. I served the pulled seitan on buttered white rolls as although this goes against everything I’ve ever been told about carbs (go brown wherever possible) that is how they are always served on TV. I topped them with some coleslaw (not homemade as we really couldn’t be bothered to wash the new food processor we have recently acquired) – plain for me and a mango jalapeno variety for Benj.

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This was a proper, trashy, down-home American meal and we absolutely loved it. Better still, we made enough for two nights so enjoyed exactly the same treat the following evening! Best Bank Holiday ever!! If you are a vegetarian just gagging to experience the full, unadulterated beauty of pulled pork, please try these. 🙂

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BBQ Seitan ‘Ribs’

For our second experience with seitan, it was time to get trashy. The posh, dinner-party-worthy stuffed roulade was a distant memory and I treated Benj to a bit of an indoor cowboy cookout complete with mock barbecue ‘ribs’, corn on the cob and fluffy mashed potatoes.

I followed the recipe for seitan ‘ribz’ from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen with a few tweaks and lazy-boy changes, notably the complete omission of my own homemade BBQ sauce and the introduction of one Budweiser Honey BBQ glaze that we were both extremely excited for. That is, until I checked the back of the jar in a rare ‘lightbulb’ moment to see that the ingredients included worcester sauce, which included anchovies. Not very vegetarian. This would be fine, except we’d already bought the sauce and were nanoseconds away from slathering it all over the very much vegetarian ribs. Plus, both of us had an alcoholic beverage in hand, thus removing the ability to replace the offending item. So, I ended up making my own BBQ sauce after all! Which turned out wonderfully, despite the limited ingredients on hand.

The recipe was really easy to follow and once the dough was made (literally a 5 minute job!) I pressed it into a glass baking dish and cut it into strips to replicate actual ribs. It looked so appetising!

Not. It looks like brains, lets be honest. But I was confident it would be a flavour sensation with some quality oven time, a generous covering of sauce and a stellar line-up of side dishes.

Once the seitan had baked for about half an hour I removed it. I was really impressed with the texture of it – much like the roulade it was chewy and dense with a lovely browned, slightly crispy top from the oven. I’ve bookmarked lots of recipes for boiled seitan and we’ll definitely try it one day but for now I can’t stop making the baked version!

So the seitan was out of the oven, cooling slightly on the counter and all ready for some serious sauce application and then we had Saucegate. I was slightly livid because the whole meal was based around this sauce and now poor Benj couldn’t have any. Panic not, my boy! I hit up Google and using a combination of about 5 ‘Simple Barbecue Sauce’ recipes I came up with a satisfactory combination that miraculously mixed together to actually taste like BBQ sauce.  For the record, I used ketchup, brown sugar, mustard powder and soy sauce in varying amounts until I hit the jackpot. Heated up gently in a pan it was even better! With the seal of approval from Ben, we were back on track. Wearing my special smug face which I reserve exclusively for kitchen successes, I sliced the rib slab into two (cutting the dough before cooking it was a real help as the perforation ensured a clean cut afterwards) and put them into two different baking trays as we now had a Code Red veggie vs meaty situation on our hands and needed to avoid cross contamination.

Ben said I was more than welcome to use the homemade BBQ sauce since I made a lot but I really had thought of nothing but the Bud sauce since we bought it a few hours earlier, and nothing was going to get in the way of that. I do think the surprise addition of anchovies in the sauce has made Ben think a lot more about what he’s buying though and he thanked me profusely for ‘saving him’ afterwards! Bless. It’s surprising how many products that you would never think twice about do contain animal products.

I spread the Bud sauce on my ribs and the homemade one on Ben’s and we put them in the oven to finish off for the last 10 minutes. I was hoping the sauce would get a bit caramelised and sticky and seep into the seitan. Yum!

While the ribs were finishing off we completed our side dishes. Lovely, fresh whole corn on the cob with butter and salt alongside smooth, fluffy mashed potatoes with milk, garlic and slightly more butter than was really necessary. After years of forgoing mashed potato I am now firmly back in the MP camp after learning to make it myself. My favourite way to eat the carby wonder product is still in baked form (with super crispy, olive oiled and salted skin) but I find myself longing for the comfort of mash a lot more now.

We removed the ribs from the oven and the sauce had indeed caramalised nicely, making them smell amazing and even look very similar to actual ribs!

The final verdict? These are amazing! I actually preferred them to real ribs because they are so much easier to eat and obviously a lot less messy. Plus unbelievably lower in calories and fat which is always a bonus (especially when you are still soldiering on with My Fitness Pal, as I bravely am. I’ve lost nearly a stone though! I love seitan!!)

I love how the mashed potatoes in that photo would almost not look out of place on a pavement…if you catch my drift.

The recipe made enough for 8 ribs and due to the thickness and sheer size of each one, we could only manage a pitiful 3 each. Embarrassing. That meant leftovers though! Lunch the following day, in a bread roll with extra sauce. Yum!

Please make these if you have any interest in vegetarian barbecue food – they were so quick and easy and so much more exciting than the usual veggie burgers or sausages that find their way onto barbecues in the summer. Surprise the vegetarian in your life!

You could even push the boat out and make BONES for the ribs a la A Vegan For Dinner! Love that commitment!

Seitan Roulade with Spinach, Red Onions and Mushrooms

Finally. I finally made seitan roulade. Really impressive, posh looking seitan roulade!

I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to make seitan roulade for Benj. Ever since we first sampled this king of fake meats many moons ago, I’ve been keen to attempt it at home and impress Ben with a tastes-just-like-meat-but-isn’t treat. Ironically, when asked if there is anything he misses now he’s a veggie, the only thing he says he very very (very!) occasionally longs for is fish. It’s notoriously tricky to replicate fish so I pretty much ignore him and pretend he craves a huge fillet of steak with potatoes and veg (possibly because I think that is what I would miss most?) Hence the constant need to recreate this combination of food in a vegetarian way.

This roulade was a belated birthday meal for him, having received my vital wheat gluten a few days after his birthday. I based the roulade on a combination of the Post Punk Kitchen Seitan Roast and the infamous ‘Seitan O Greatness’ recipe that everyone and their Mum has made.

Apologies but due to time elapsed since cooking and slackness of note-taking during, I am unable to provide a recipe. I’d say it’s more the Seitan O Greatness though with a few modifications (no tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce or cumin, for example.) Once I had made the seitan itself I faced the difficult task of flattening it out enough into a shape suitable for being stuffed and rolled. The dough was really elastic and stubborn and every time I kneaded a section out it would just spring back into the original shape. A LOT of elbow grease was required and I was beginning to think I’d done something terribly wrong as it was looking less and less likely this ball of dough was ever going to be edible. But, I persevered and was eventually rewarded with a submissive rectangle of dough sitting pretty on the counter, waiting for the stuffing to be applied.

I don’t particularly like shiiitakes OR leeks and so chose to use my current favourite tart filling of caramalised red onions, finely chopped mushrooms and lots and lots of garlic and herbs. I also added wilted spinach as I thought it would provide a nice punch of colour amongst all the brown.

Once cooked, I applied the mixture to the dough and spread it all out.

Yummers! I then rolled the dough around the filling and wrapped it up in tinfoil…like a big sweet.

It went into the oven for about an hour, during which time I was obsessively poking forks into it to see what was going on in there. Honestly, the suspense! After an hour it was ‘firm to the touch’ as advised by PPK so I took it out, unwrapped the tinfoil and we looked on in amazement at what had happened. The dough was crisp and crunchy on the inside, a lovely golden brown colour. The dough nearest the stuffing and obviously the stuffing itself was moist and soft, creating a lovely contrast of textures. I sliced it into big, greedy, 2 inch or so wide rounds and placed it proudly on the plates alongside my BEST EVER potato dauphinoise (I added cheese and although technically you shouldn’t, it really took it above and beyond!) and Ben’s all time favourite vegetable, broccoli.

The texture was a little spongy as I think I overcooked it ever so slightly but this was easy to overlook due to the amazing taste! The stuffing infused the actual seitan making it very herby and garlicy which was fabulous. Paired with the potatoes, the broccoli and a big glass of wine, this was a very special celebration meal and I know Ben thoroughly enjoyed it. I am pleased that my first forey into seitan-making was a success and I feel like I started with the trickiest recipe so everything now will be a doddle! In theory. If I did make the roulade again I would make sure to double wrap the tinfoil as I feel it could have held together better, but that’s just me being annoyingly critical. I also think a sauce of some kind would be lovely with this, any suggestions?

I have promised that our next adventure with seitan will be a far trashier one – currently thinking along the lines of seitan ‘ribz’ or buffalo seitan wingless ‘wingz’!