Monday, November 19, 2007

Chickpea Cutlets: A Veganomicon Review

My copy of Veganomicon finally arrived in the mail a few days ago. For some reason it was released later in Canada than in the States, and what with Canada Post . . . . Anyway, the good news is it is finally here! Things have been so busy here, though, that I have not had any time to sit down and look through the recipes in any great detail. I like to read a new cookbook from cover to cover first, so I can get a good sense of what it is all about, and so I can piece together meal plans in my head. Maybe this weekend . . . .


So, on to the cutlets! I read about them on a few blogs, so I looked them up. They seemed perfect--a seitan-like texture without the hours and hours of simmering. What's not to like?

Here is my take: First, the texture is not bad but is a bit on the chewy/stringy side. I could feel the cutlet sitting there in my stomach afterward like a lump. But, I have been known to bolt down dinner with minimal chewing. Second, the recipe calls to pan fry the cutlet for 6-7 mins per side. This is a little tricky. It's hard to find the right temperature: too hot and you burn the outside before the inside is cooked, too cool and you get raw cutlet. Blech. I think next time I will bake it, as is also suggested. I just did not have the time tonight. Lastly, a note on prep. The recipe calls to mash a can of chickpeas with a fork until no whole chickpeas remain. This takes forever, especially since I doubled the recipe. I think next time I will pulse them in a food processor for a smoother texture.

So, the final verdict? I am going to give the dish a 7.5/10. The boys loved them (Son #1 ate two cutlets with great relish), so that is a big plus. I also think the recipe has great potential--I will experiment next time with some different spices since the cutlet as is is kind of neutral. I also made a mushroom gravy to pour over top, which made it less plain.

Mushroom Gravy
1. Saute an 80z pkg of sliced cremini mushroom in 4 tbsp of oil for 10 mins, until golden brown.
2. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of flour over top and stir until well mixed.
3. Slowly pour in 1 cup of plain soy milk, stirring constantly. Bring to bubbling and let thicken.
4. Stir in 1 tbsp mushroom soy sauce, 1 tsp of sage, and salt and pepper to taste.

You can make this thinner or thicker, depending on what you like. If you need more gravy, add in more soy milk and some dissolved cornstarch to thicken.

11 comments:

Happy Herbivore said...

I can't believe we both made chickpea cutlets last night!

Vegan Dad said...

And would you agree with my review?

DanDirtyApes said...

I agree 100% with your review. I burnt my first two (in a pan), baking was better. They were stringier than i was expecting, but not bad as such. I wonder how Isa got the perfect looking ones that are in the book, mine were falling apart after cooking, perhaps more liquid...

Carla said...

My husband has put these in the "please do not make again" pile. I didn't mind them, and made a smaller batch for me for lunch with different spices - cilantro, coriander and cumin - and preferred those flavours. You are right, the texture is a bit weird, but not necessarily bad.

bunniee said...

I use a food processor to mash the chickpeas and combine them with the other ingredients for the cutlets. It's faster and I like the texture better than mixing/mashing everything by hand.

I bake the cutlets because it's easier, especially when the recipe is doubled. I've not had problems with stringiness, but I am careful not to use warm or hot broth when preparing the recipe.

Melissa said...

everyone has this book...I leave the blogging world for about two months and I'm completely out of the loop, haha.

I'm glad I found your blog. I'm curious about which Northern ON city you're in? I'm in Sudbury :)

j said...

hey, vegan dad. veggie daughter here. i put my chickpeas in a big glass bowl and started to take a masher to 'em. it was hard, and the chickpeas got stuck in it. i thought, 'duh! what am i doing?' and, with clean hands, pressed down on 'em with my knuckles. easy! lordy, why hadn't i thought of that earlier?!
by the time i was ready to mash the taters i'd steamed they'd cooled down, so i mashed 'em with my fists, too. why not? effective and quick. and what do you do with cool mashed potatoes? pour hot mushroom gravy on them of course! thanks for the tip.

Ron said...

Hi VeganDad,

I made these tonight using the baking method and not a scrap was left. I liked the tang from the lemon zest although I may have used a tad too much.

I wondering what Nth Americans actually mean by a 'cutlet' because to me these were really flat burgers with minute-steak like texture but not chewy or stringy.

In Australia, a 'cutlet' normally means a specific cut of lamb, veal or pork with a curved bone. Although I guess a salmon or fish cutlet might be closer to what this recipe resembles.

All the best,
Ron (Australia)

Anonymous said...

In N.America cutlet usually means patty. See also the Asian cutlet for reference. They are pretty much the same thing. Hope that helps!

grace for all creatures said...

I made these tonight. I agree, the texture was a little odd at first. I didn't pan fry them b/c of the comments on them sticking and I didn't have time to bake them. I put them in my GF indoor grill for about 5 minutes on high and they turned out pretty darn good. I coated the two sides of the grill with a thin layer of oil and then coated each cutlet w/ a thin layer of oil as well. We had them with roasted potatoes and steamed asparagus and the gravy recipe you posted. I think I read somewhere that baking them for 10 minutes after pan frying them helped with the texture. Since I doubled the batch so we could have it two nights in a row, tomorrow I'll grill and then bake and see what happens.

administration said...

I was wondering: Did the grill then bake trial work out well?