Filed under: Community Building, Reducing Waste, Resilience | Tags: making seitan, milling wheat, seitan, Solar Cooker, wheat meat
I’m back to making seitan (pronounced say-tan), or wheat meat, in my slow cooker. Seitan is a great meat substitute, made from whole wheat flour and a few ingredients that most kitchens already have on hand. I used to make this regularly, and somehow got out of the habit, but found some new recipes recently that called for it and so decided to make some more. I bravely served it to non vegetarian company in a fricasee Friday night, and they wanted the recipe! So, I pass it along to you here too:
Seitan is best when left to gently simmer for several hours and, once again, the solar or slow cooker, comes to the rescue. For a firmer texture, add 1/4 cup of powdered wheat gluten to the mix. I also like to freeze it in meal sized chunks to make the texture more meat like, but that’s not necessary. The cooking liquid may be strained and used as a stock in sauces, soups, or just to cook some fresh veggies in. My dog loves it poured over her dry kibble!
1 large carrot, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 large yellow onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup tamari or other soy sauce
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 quarts plus 3 cups water, or more as needed
6 cups whole wheat flour (about 2 pounds)
1. Combine the carrot, onion, garlic, tamari, and bay leaves in a 6 qt slow cooker. Add 2 1/2 quarts of the water, cover, and turn to high
2. Place the flour in a large bowl and add the remaining 3 cups water. Stir well to combine, adding a little more water if the dough is too dry. Turn dough onto a flat surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. OR put it all in the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl OR your bread maker. Place the dough back in the bowl and add enough warm water to cover. Let rest for 20 minutes
3. Remove dough from bowl and place the dough in the sink. Knead the dough under running water until the water is almost clear. NOTE: I do this step over a dish pan and use the pour the water over plants. The dough should now be a fairly smooth ball of wheat gluten, or raw seitan.
4. Depending on how you plan to use it, leave the raw seitan whole or divide into 4 or 5 smaller pieces and add to the simmering stock. Change the heat setting to low, cover and cook for 4 to 6 hours.
5. Remove the cooked seitan from the cooker and let cool. If you are not using the seitan right away, it can be stored submerged in its stock in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days or frozen for several weeks.
Now, here’s some suggestions for using seitan. When ready to use, I partially thaw, then slice it medium thin, like you would a beef roast or ham. Heat 1 T. of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, adding shallots or onions if desired, cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Remove onions, add another Tablespoon of oil in the same skillet and add the sliced seitan and cook until browned on both sides, about ten minutes.
This can then be added to stir fries, vegetable stews (like the fricasee shown below, with carrots, onions and potatoes), or hot and sour soup. It also makes a VERY good sandwich on a grilled faccocia with melted cheese, onions, lettuce and tomato and sprouts. In other words, use it like beef, just not as a stand alone entree.
You may ask, “Why not just buy beef?” Glad you asked that question!! By now we all know about the life-long antibiotics and growth hormones that are fed to the cows, and how those substances are bad for human health. We all know that the methane the cows produce are serious contributors to global warming and we’ve all seen the ‘hidden videos’ filmed in feedlots and stockyards, showing how badly the cows are mistreated. Our doctors have warned all of us about the cholesterol and heart problems that eating meat regularly can cause. But, in the context of this blog, I’m choosing to focus on simple things we can do in our daily lives to help us transition gracefully to a lower energy world. You can bet that the end of cheap oil will make trucking frozen beef across the country from the meat-packing plants in Minnesota, or jetting it from Argentina, simply unprofitable in such a world. By contrast, growing wheat and milling it into flour has been part of humanity since Biblical times and could be accomplished locally, without the use of oil. I believe that learning skills like cooking from scratch, taking care of our own health, growing and preserving food and developing resilient local economies will enable us to not only survive, but to thrive, no matter what our futures hold.
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