Saturday, June 6, 2009

A European Mock Meat. Of a Sort. Part 1.

No. I didn't suddenly discover that Western Europeans before 1601 regularly substituted fried turnip circles for meat or had managed to figure that bulgur is a marvy sub for finely chopped meat or made barley burgers for Lent (although those are all reasonable choices for dealing with the meat-free option when working with a free flowing minced meat recipe).

No, this is about making a solid chunk o' sumptin that can serve in place of a solid chunk o' meat. This is about veggie burgers from foods and spice choices appropriate to our period.

This is the first of several veggie burgers I'm making based on Joanna Vaught's recipe. These veggie burgers feature ingrediants known to Western Europeans, and so, while they can not be considered something anyone would have made, they can serve as something that is SCA compatible--a sure protein with the flavors of the age.

The primary veggie and protein in these burgers.
Why no picture of the actual burgers? Keep reading.

The recipe:

2 cups chopped, sauteed leeks
1.5 cups cooked black eyed peas
1.5 cups cooked brown rice
3/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 almond milk
2 tablespoons red wine
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise
1/2 teaspoon salt

*I chose the spice mix based on a couple of recipes for leeks from Du fait de cuisine (France, 1420), specifically, "White Leeks" and "Sauce Piquant." This is an obvious choice, of course, as the predominant vegetable in this recipe are the leeks.

*The long term prep work doesn't need much attention--a slow cooker for the black eyed peas, a rice cooker for the rice. I like to think of it as handing the ingrediants to a couple of servants and letting them take care of the actual cooking. ;-) Drain the black eyed peas before use.

*In reviewing a mass of leek recipes for the creation of this particular SCA compatible protein, I frequently ran across the instruction to soak the leeks first. I last used leeks with a mock cheese sauce for a recipe I did not blog--the recipe was very good, but the thing was gritty. That was a shock to me, as I had never before run into that problem. Michael suggested that I soak the leeks next time, and since there were so many recipes that include this instruction, I'm going to emphasize this as a non-skippable step in period instruction. Chop the leeks and soak them. This will filter out the grit. I promise. Let them soak for 1/2 hour or so, then drain & sautee them in as much olive oil as is needed.

When you are ready to make the burgers, pre-heat your oven to 400F. If, like me, you use cast iron for cooking, place it into the oven to preheat, as well.

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix the veggies, rice, beans in another, then mix the dry ingredieants into that. Now add the liquids and mix it up well to get the gluten activated. If you want, grab a masher and mash the whole mess up a bit. Note that warm beans and rice will get the gluten activating right off, so be prepared to work fast if you are using warm ingrediants.

Form them into patties and place them into the pans and let them bake. Flip them at least once during the baking process. The recipe I am building on suggests 20 minutes a side, but I found I needed much longer, and ended up flipping them every 20 minutes until they were done in accordance with my tastes.

I was initially disappointed in them, because while still warm from the oven, they tasted very strongly of the VWG. Which, as I have said, is not bad, but I didn't throw in all that other good stuff just so I could eat something that tasted like bread. However, after an overnight refrigeration, the VWG flavor disappeared and what I had was yummy, yummy veggie burgers that did not fall appart and which reheated nicely in the microwave. And that would be why there are no pictures--I didn't take a picture when I thought the recipe wasn't going to work in this particular format, and next day, ate them all up before I could get a picture of the leftovers.

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