Vegan Schnitzel

German food is all about comfort and simplicity. Some of it's healthy, like my German cucumber salad, and some of it's not so healthy. Schnitzel leans toward the unhealthy side. Traditionally it is made from thin slices of veal that are lightly breaded and fried. When paired with boiled potatoes, white asparagus, and pickled veggies, it screams comfort food to me. Being vegetarian, I haven't eaten schnitzel since I was a toddler terrorizing restaurants in Germany (sorry Mom!), but it's something I've always wanted to make meat-free. I've tried it a few times at restaurants and making it at home, but it was always either flavorless and/or horribly textured. Last week I finally got it right!
The breading was crisp, the interior was juicy, it was chewy without being rubbery, and the flavor was exactly what I envisioned. The faux veal is seitan, which is made from vital wheat gluten. That means skip this recipe if you eat gluten-free. I am personally a fan of seitan, because it packs a whopping 23 grams of protein per quarter cup serving with only 120 calories and 0.5 grams of fat. The recipe is a bit time consuming, but one bite of this schnitzel and it's worth it. I broke the cooking up over two nights: one to make the seitan and one to form the complete schnitzel. It was so good, meat obsessed X had three schnitzel before I even sat down at the table.

Vegan Schnitzel
Makes 12 patties

2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp garlic pwder
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups + 6 cups water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp molasses

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 cups Italian bread crumbs
2 tsp dried rosemary
2 tsp garlic powder

+ Oil and butter for frying
+Lemon juice for serving

In a large bowl, stir to combine the vital wheat gluten and spices, then add 2 cups water. Knead the dough for two minutes and allow to rest. Meanwhile bring 6 cups water, soy sauce, and molasses to a boil in a large stock pot with a lid (I used this). Cut the dough into six pieces. Slowly add the pieces to the boiling water to prevent splashing. Reduce the heat to until the liquid simmers. Simmer for one hour. Strain the seitan and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Allow to cool completely. I refrigerate it overnight. 

Cut each chunk of seitan in half, creating 12 patties. Prepare the battering stations. In a shallow bowl, stir together the water and flour. In a separate bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and spices. Meanwhile lightly coat the bottom of a heavy skillet (I used this), with a mixture of butter and oil. I used about 3 Tbsp oil and 1 Tbsp butter. When you can't hold your hand over the pot, the fat is ready. Dredge each piece of seitan in the batter then the breading, shaking any excess off.  Slowly lower the breaded seitan into the oil (about four pieces at a time depending on how large the pot is). Cook until golden brown, about three minutes on each side. Remove each piece from the oil and allow to cool on a paper towel. Serve warm with lemon juice.

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