Saturday, November 27, 2010

Vegan Turducken

Every year we host a vegan Thanksgiving a day or two after the actual Thanksgiving. Having seen the stomach-turning phenomenon that is a "turducken" I decided to see if I could create a delicious, humane, vegan equivalent.

Ingredients to start:
I chose seitan to represent the "tur," tofu for the "duck," and tempeh was playing the role of the "en."

I started pressing the tofu a day in advance. This way it soaks up the marinade like a sponge.
Starting with the centermost "bird," roughly chop the tempeh. Have your Braggs or soy sauce handy.

Saute the tempeh like you would for a stir-fry. I used Braggs Liquid Aminos (if you're not familiar, it's a lot like soy sauce), olive oil and a dash of white pepper.

Remove the saute from heat and let it cool.

Now prepare the pressed tofu.  I selected a knife that was the depth I wanted the pocket to be that would become "nest" for the tempeh.

Carve a slit in the center of one side of the tofu.

Be careful not to split or tear the side of your tofu.
Use a spoon to delicately carve a pocket in the middle of the block.

While your tempeh is still cooling prepare the marinade. I used one of my favorite Tofurky marinades, which starts with 1/4 cup of Braggs.

Then a hefty dash of liquid smoke.
1 cup of orange juice.
and a 1/4 cup of sweetener. I used turbinado sugar.
Mix well until the sugar is dissolved.

Now the tempeh should be cooled and ready to be stuffed into the tofu.

Fill it as much as you can without creating a "blowout."

Place it on a plate and cover it with marinade.
Flip it every 10 minutes for about an hour. 

Now prepare the seitan. Start with two cups vital wheat gluten.

Mix in the spices you would like in your seitan. I have found that conventional meat rubs make seitan taste more "meaty," so I chose the Bohemian Forrest rub that I picked up at my local spice shop.

Make a very strong vegetable stock. Mine is 4 cups water, 4 cubes of organic vegetable bullion, 2 tablespoons of Maggi Seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste.
Bring stock to a boil, dissolve all cubes and allow to cool.

Whisk together the rub and vital wheat gluten...
add 1 1/2 cups of bullion...
and knead together. Do not use a mixer or a food processor. The gluten turns into a very thick dough that would overload any appliance. Wash your hands and go to work. Knead for five minutes. 
Let it sit for about ten minutes and then start to press it into a flat sheet working from the center to the edges.
 Once the seitan is flat, place the stuffed tofu on it.
 Fold the seitan over.
 Seal the edges.
 Knead the seams until they are completely sealed.
 At this point you can form the excess seitan on the edges into a drumstick shape. I did this to be novel but they ended up being a huge hit at our Thanksgiving.
Cover with parchment paper and allow the seitan to proof for an hour or so.
Prepare the marinade; mine doubles for the grill lubricant and is olive oil, a tablespoon of the rub, garlic and the top of an onion soaking.
  Now I set my grill up. Half of the grill is hot coals and the other half is a brick I use to regulate and maintain consistent heat.

I have the "turducken" and a tofurky I will be grilling and smoking. 
I oil the grill using the soaked onion, and I place a full can of beer next to the coals to prevent the "meat" from drying out, a la beer-can-chicken-style humidifier. 

Place the wood chips wrapped in a foil pouch on the grate directly over the hottest part of the coals. Put the turducken over the brick as close to the coals as you can without putting any part of the turducken directly over the coals.
Use the onion to baste. Cook the turducken for 80 minutes turning it 90˚ every ten minutes and flipping it over  after 40 minutes.

 The seitan should be golden-brown and crispy on the outside.
 Carve it into slices...
...and serve.

I paired this with a refreshing, earthy drink - a Pimms Cup. For dinner music, I would suggest Fugazi's "In On the Kill Taker."


  1. That looks amazing. Completely and totally.

    We need to have a chat about seitan one of these times. Every recipe I have followed involves weird things like ketchup and boiling it for a decade or so. It looks like you may not do that, or at least not for this, and yours is the best I've had.

  2. I totally adore the veganifiction of the Turducken! I found this, veganising this for dessert :)

  3. i agree with the first comment...completely and totally amazing!

  4. Excellent turducken idea!

  5. What's the other round object on the grill?