Sunday, October 5, 2008

Chickpea Cutlets with Mustard Sauce, Lemony Roasted Potatoes

Trying to get started with a spirit of discovery, I chose not to lead with a recipe I've made before and whose goodness I already knew. So, obscure meat substitute it was!

Terry and Isa sell the chickpea cutlets as vegan food you can eat with a steak knife. The base recipe calls for them to be pan-fried, but they can also be baked.

So you start with some cooked chickpeas. Canned would be fine, but I cooked dry ones in a pressure cooker. Then you mash them with olive oil, and add in bread crumbs, soy sauce, vegetable stock, thyme, and sage. Wheat gluten (found with all the gluten-free flours at your local supermarket) provides a meaty texture.

Knead it for a while.

Then you just divide it into pieces, flatten it out, and pan-fry. It has a not-unpleasant herbal smell to it before you start cooking, but my boyfriend -- let's call him Iv (which I don't, but a lot of other people do) -- said it smelled like dirt.

And that's it. This part was easy enough. Terry and Isa say this takes about 30 minutes. It took me a little longer, but not by much.

So then I got started on the mustard sauce. Once the cutlets were fried, I just figured I'd deglaze the pan to make the sauce (though I can confirm that there's not much advantage to be gained from that when making chickpea cutlets, other than just keeping one less dish to clean). I sauteed garlic with thyme, then added cooking sherry, soy sauce, vegetable stock, cornstarch, mustard, thyme, and capers.

Concurrently, I had the Lemony Roasted Potatoes going in the oven. This was a couple pounds of russet potato wedges, olive oil, lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and vegetable stock.

Plated up and ready to go. I'm showing this to you on the table, but we actually ate this in front of the TV watching Survivor (they've probably got one of the best-looking casts in a few seasons, but the contestants seem a little more idiotic than usual).

The dinner review, then. The potatoes were good, though the suggested russet potatoes may not actually be the best for this dish; they seemed a bit dry, and Yukon gold may prove to the be the better bet. Iv said that the chickpea cutlets probably wouldn't fly with Joe Sixpack, though he liked them. I thought the sage gave them a faintly poultry-like flavor. As for the claim that it was vegan food that needed a steak knife? Well, if you're the kind of vegan who's really looking for an excuse to use a steak knife, then by all means, feel free. The mustard sauce was nice, but between the cooking sherry, soy sauce, and capers, was pretty damn salty, and would have been even saltier if I'd used commercial vegetable stock instead of homemade stuff from our freezer. So if you make this, which I recommend, you'll probably want to use regular sherry or white wine instead of cooking sherry, at the very least.

All in all, a successful meal, but maybe not the one you want to sneak onto your carnivorous friends. We ended with clean plates, though.

1 comment:

iuls said...

I just made these and was looking for comments from other people who have—excellent blog!

Changes I made: I used canned chickpeas (1 1/2 cups), the zest and juice of one lemon, and what I call the Scarborough Fair mix of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, as well as some hot paprika. I also mixed the wet and dry ingredients separately, and took an immersion blender to the wet ingredients before adding the dry ones.

I served the cutlets with the Veganomicon's recipe for mushroom gravy over my recipe for mashed cauliflower with roasted garlic. Loved it! My meat-and-potatoes husband declared the cutlets to be "inoffensive," said he'd eat them again, and suggested that they'd be much better fried in butter. :P Still, it was a much better reaction than I'd hoped for.

The next time I make the cutlets, I'm going to add a bit of chopped jalapeƱ and artichoke; the recipe is a great base for other flavors.