Oct 6, 2012

chili's make over

This is Take Two for the Chili's Make Over. Take One is here.

I won't rehash the fabulous casual dining experience that Chili's offers, but head right into the heart of the blog. 
The steak.

I have been wanting to recreate 'steak' ever since, well,... we went vegan. It hasn't been easy and I am not saying this is the end-all to the endeavor, but, damn, it's good! Chili's offers a Cajun Ribeye on their menu which has Cajun seasoning, au jus, and Cajun butter. It is served with mashed potatoes and veggies. I chose this as the first steak to make because it has other components that take the focus off the meat. This would make it more probable that the steak would taste like a steak. Not the steak, mind you, but a steak-like product.

This is seitan in its simplest form - basically vital wheat gluten, tamari, oil, stock and steak sauce. Steak sauce is vegan, ironically. The real secret is not in the gluten itself, but how it is prepared. After the gluten flour is mixed with the liquid it needs to sit for around 24 hours  6 hours. It is then rolled very thin (possible after all that sitting) and cooked low and slow, for about 2 hours. 

Now that the gluten has become a SteaK, it is grilled in a grill pan with a good bit of oil. Although most of the oil drips off into the grates, the oil is important because our seitan has practically no fat, but the flesh it mimics does. 

 Our Cajun SteaK is then topped with au jus and the Cajun butter. 
You WANT this. Really.
It is um-mazing. In fact, the family has informed me that we will be having this often. Even as I write, there is another batch sitting and waiting to be baked.

Onto the contest winner of Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson.
Random.org generated result is comment #17, in2insight. Email me with your mailing address at veganaide (at) yahoo (dot) com.
Congrats! And everyone, thanks for entering. It really is an amazing slow cooker cookbook. I have her first one and this supreme! It is worth the cost of $11.32.

Cost Breakdown


gluten, oil: $2
stock, sauce, tamari: $4
Total to make 8 thin SteaKs:


  1. Oh Jeez, I mean Au Jus. Look at that din-din you recreated. You are a supreme being.
    and lot's of your post really made me chuckle. *won't rehash the fabulous casual dining experience*. I am doing a seitan dish tomorrow, your dish is a true inspiration. Beautiful!

  2. This looks ridiculously good! I am really enjoying your mofo posts!

  3. Could these be cooked on a George Foreman grill? We have one dedicated to vegan cooking.

    1. Technically it should work. Let me go try it. You'll need a day to let the gluten sit so the extra liquid leaves the gluten and it becomes really easy to roll. I am making a cheese steak today so I'll throw a SteaK on the Forman as well. I'll get back to you.

  4. What is the best way to store the SteaKs with the broth or without? Can they be frozen?

    How long does the Beefy flavoring keep? Can it be frozen?


    1. Store it with the broth, but the broth can be reused once it is boiled. Yes, freexing is fine for both the flavoring and the seitan.

      So far, I have had the flavoring in the fridge for 2 weeks, still looking good. If you freeze it, freeze it in tablespoon portions so it'll be easier for you to pull it out and use it.

      Thank you for the questions!

  5. Nonna, Firstly, I've updated the sitting time and rolling process of the SteaK recipe. It does not have to sit for so long and it does not have to be rolled in only one direction. Secondly, I tried the Forman grill and other pan options.

    Here are the results I found:

    First: Best cooking option for getting the SteaK to look all meat-like and best texture is a Cast Iron Grill Pan. It gets hot enough in just the right places.

    Second: Cast Iron Pan. No hash marks, but still taste and texture-wise great. Cook for half the time, only until it is as golden/charred as you like.

    Third: Stainless Steel Pan. Cook for less time on high heat, oil the pan first, not the seitan, so the seitan doesn't stick. Cooks fast and leaves a little bit of a mess to clean up because of the high heat. You can try this with lower heat but be careful of too low a heat because the SteaK gets too rubbery.

    Last: Non-stick pan options, including Forman. Since non stick does not allow too much heat through the pan to prevent sticking and burning (at least it takes a while for this to happen), the seitan needs to cook for a lot longer at a dry heat and it dries out the seitan. I tried tilting the grill so the juices and oil didn't drip off too much, but it still dried it out before I could not get it charred enough. Because of this, the seitan was more rubbery than with the other options.

    Hope that helps! I am still working on this so I really appreciate all the feedback and cooking help. Thank you so much!

  6. Wow. I can't believe how real this steak looks.

    1. Don't worry - it doesn't taste nearly that real... the magic of food photography, sauce, seitan and a grill pan.

  7. Vegan Aide, you are amazing. First, thank you for all the kind assistance.
    This recipe ROCKS!
    The flavors are outstanding, the texture fantastic, and all in all one of the best seitan meals ever.
    I hope your family worships you as they should! :)

    1. I CANNOT begin to find the words to express how absolutely thrilled I am that it worked for you!! Maybe a few more exclamation points!!!!

      I can begin breathing again. It is always great when a recipe works for me, but when someone else can recreate it and have such super extraordinary comment support it, then it is magical. Love it! And thank you, thank you! I am so happy you liked it!

  8. I made this for the first time last night. I am trying to find recipes for vegan "meat" and freeze for easy meals. Yesterday I prepped and today I cooked. All I see are good reports, but mine totally sucked! =[ I probably did something really really wrong I am sure. That is the usual case. The taste was alright but I felt like I was chewing on fat at the ends of the pieces and gum more toward the center. Does anyone have an idea of what I might have done wrong? I really want to try this again...and it look, feel, and taste good.

    1. Thank you for posting. I'm so sorry you didn't have a good experience. Would you email me so we can figure it out? Veganaide at yahoo dot com.

  9. and i am in the process of making this and for the love of all things holy - HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO ROLL THIS GLUTENOUS MASS?!? my husband is laughing at me, i have the space and equipment.... i’m trying to stretch it now by my hand but it really isn’t any thinner then how i lopped it off the glob! is there a FAQ or a video i’m missing to see what i am doing (did) wrong? all your recipes look so great - thanks for all your hard work!!

    1. You are right, I need to make a How-To for this!

      As for now, I am assuming you have the glob cut into 8 pieces (one recipe, right?).

      You should be able to roll it out using a rolling pin. It should be very soft and pliable. Is that what is happening?

    2. You will not be able to roll this by hand (if I am reading your comment correctly).

      Each of the 8 pieces should roll out into about a 10X10-inch piece of gluten. How's it going?

  10. thanks for the reply! i was using a rolling pin, yes and tried my countertop, then a cutting board. it’s just too wet? i didn’t put flour or anything down, but it was just so tight and then no traction! so i tried pretending i was some kind of pizza maker! maybe i did the first couple pieces about 5 minutes (maybe 10) each, then i just smashed them :-/ i didn’t really get any increase in size! mu husband suggested i dig up the pasta machine but i wasn’t into that idea but i may try that again if i made this again. this is the first time i’ve made anything along these lines so my whole technique may be weird. forming the dough seemed as you described .

    Oh - now i made it late last night and let it set for maybe 12 hours. i assumed that was ok because it was at least 6 and it seemed like the recipe used to let it go longer than that so i thought it would be ok. actually,i just tasted a little pice of it (it’s cooling) and it is more tender and it is cut-able, whereas before it was like never ending rubber! so i am pressing on - it does smell good (the broth) so i’m giving it a try and we shall see! maybe i’ll go tweet you a pic! thanks so much for your reply!

    1. The gluten rolls best on a dry counter. A cutting board works as well, but it is best to have something nonporous and very dry. The gluten is a little wet so it "grabs" onto the counter. I usually have a clean, dry rag that I use to wipe between cutlets.

      I suggest you make the Simple Chicken Seitan as a a first time seitan recipe. It is much more forgiving and is easier to make overall. I make that one at least once a week. It can be used in any recipe and is quicker to make.

      The 12 hours sit time is fine. I'd love a picture!

      I will be making this in the next few days and do a How-To-Breakdown; maybe it will be helpful.

      Thank you so much for giving this a try --- I hope it works out in the end! As long as your gluten was very thin (around 1/8th inch), the texture should come out okay. *fingers crossed*


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