First off, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Post Punk Kitchen for naming this blog, yes, the one you are reading!!, Weekly Vegan Menu, on their 100 List. We are so darned amazed, flattered and any other word that aptly describes being slammed to the floor in awe. I love the list and its other contents and look forward to perusing it myself in the coming weeks. Beautiful job, PPK! And not just because we are on it. The list is great and if you haven't seen it, yet, you certainly should.
Chicken Parmigiana is a classic Italian dish of breaded and fried chicken, baked with layers of tomato sauce and cheese. Interesting to note is that Eggplant Parmigiana was the predecessor of the meat version, not the other way around.
Way to go aubergine!
Since I have already created the eggplant recipe, I wanted to see what all the fuss was about the meat version. I had a bunch of non-veg teenagers over for dinner and thought this might be a nice vegan dish to make for them. This was also the perfect way to introduce to you all my brand-spanking-new Simple Chicken Seitan Recipe.
The Simple Chicken Seitan Recipe uses only 7 ingredients, can be made in any machine or by hand (if you have to) and has no seitan flavor if cooked properly.
What's the catch?
(1) You have to cook it at a very low temperature. The lower the better, but 225 F works very well. This means that you cook it longer. If you do not care about seitan-y flavor, then by all means, continue cooking it at the regular temperature of 350 F for an hour
or using your slow cooker.
The slow cooker method has turned out to be a success, and I am so excited because of it! It is actually turning out to be the better of the two methods (oven or slow cooker). The trick is to leave the lid ajar, by about a quarter inch, and only cook the cutlets for 3 hours and 45 minutes. Huge thanks to Nonna for getting me to try it even after I abandoned the idea.
(2) You have to sift your gluten flour. No getting around this. In order to pull off the recipe to an exact tee, maintain proper texture and flavor, you have to measure the correct amount of gluten. The best way to do that is to either sift the flour before you measure it or stir it up before you measure it. This is the same procedure that you use for baking with regular flour; the flour granules settle down and make measuring inaccurate by as much as FOUR Tablespoons per cup of flour! That makes a big difference in the final product.
***A little note about the cost of vital wheat gluten flour.***
I've seen some comments on different sites about the expense of gluten flour. If you purchase a small box of it from your local health food store, sure, you are going to pay an arm and a leg for the stuff. Been there, done that. But, if you buy it from the bulk section of, say Whole Foods, you are way better off. I buy 25 pounds at a time from WF for around $80. That is around $3.25 per pound. A pound of gluten flour yields more than 3 cups. 1 cup of gluten makes 8 cutlets.
Therefore, 1 pound of gluten, at $3.50, makes around 30 cutlets of Simple Chicken Seitan.
No Whole Foods or other super-awesome store like that near you? No problem. Hitting Amazon, you would still be paying a lot, around $5/pound for Bob's Red Mill or $6/pound for Arrowhead Mill. But that is still not even close to the $9/pound that you pay at a local health food store.
(There are other companies that sell on Amazon, but I don't have buying experience with them.)
On the brighter side, Barry Farm , a place I have shopped from, sells vital wheat gluten for $3.50/pound. Discounts for larger (5 pounds or 25 pounds) orders. Great place to get it. I purchased 30 pounds and the total, including shipping, was $85. That is less than $3/pound, including shipping.
The other ingredients for the Simple Chicken Seitan are chickpea flour (very important), salt, VA Chicken-Style Broth Mix, garlic and tahini. If you don't have tahini, add 1/2 Tablespoon of a neutral flavored oil.
A note about eggs and binding. What makes the Parmigiana family of classics especially off the menu for vegans (even if you ask for it without cheese) is the egg batter. The consensus still remains that you need eggs for binding crumbs onto things, when all you need is wet flour. It doesn't matter if you use soy milk, nut milk, water, broth or eggs to make your flour wet - it all does the same thing - turn flour into glue (papier mache anyone?) The one difference is that vegan milk, water and broth won't cost you a million karma points.
There it is. Get cooking.
panko, breadcrumbs, flour: $1
spices, garlic: $.50
tomato sauce: $3
Total to make 5 servings: