I love seitan, but I'm totally picky. I cannot stand store bought varieties and love how easily it's made at home, but am still quite a novice when it comes to making it. I've only had one real bad experience so far (I blame the brand of vital wheat gluten I used), but am still constantly on the lookout for those recipes/cooking techniques that will reeeeally knock our socks off. (Speaking of...have you seen Tracy's blog? That woman is the QUEEN of seitan! Amazing stuff over there!)
This search led me to Ellen's Kitchen & Ellen's Best Unchuck Roast. One, if it's the Best, I was all about it. Two, this method uses a crockpot, something I've really wanted to try. There are still some other versions of a seitan roast both here and over at Bryanna's site that I'm dying to try, but this one won out as it looked like I had just about everything I need here at home to pull it all together.
First, I made Bryanna's oyster sauce. This stuff is incredible, and wonderful to now have on hand. Came together in a snap and reeeeally tasty. I used two 8 oz. packages of dried shiitakes (they were on sale, woohoo!) and now have shiitake powder in the fridge (those two packages made a TON of 'shroom powder in the coffee grinder) for making stocks and other things...or more oyster sauce!
Next I jumped into the rest of the recipe. I was forced to make one major substitution as this recipe calls for 5 cups of black tea and the only black tea we ever have in the house is chai. I settled on a strong green and managed to fine one straggler black pekoe bag (thanks mom!) in our very large basket 'o tea varieties (what? doesn't everyone keep a gargantuan basket in their pantry of tantalizing teas? ;) Also, the bread maker I'd begged and pleaded for now resides in our garage as it's singular little paddle does more in the way of creating a little hole in the middle of any dough and just spinning 'round and 'round doing nothing than anything else. I figured I'd just knead by hand. I find that very satisfying when making breads, should be the same, right? Not so much. I likely could have kneaded the dough more for a firmer, more dense roast, but it began to get really sticky and tough and I ended up kneading once for 5 min, letting it rest for 15-20 (while I cleaned up a bit) and then kneaded again for another 5 min before putting in the crock pot.
My next bump in the road came after an hour of it cooking in the crock pot. The cap'n was going to be in town between flights (this is 30 min drive from where we live) and I had the opportunity to go see him for a few min before he jetted off to somewhere else for another couple of days. Heck yeah! Miss an opportunity to wrap my arms around that fine hunk o' man? Not a chance!!! So, I situated the vermin, hopped in the car, and started to speed away. Enter deeply rooted paranoia. The thought of leaving the crockpot (that sucker gets HOT, even on low!) plugged in and on for the 90 min i'd likely be gone with all seven of our babies inside a house we're currently trying to sell was suddenly NOT an option (I found out, doing a third grade book report, that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on my birthday. I've had fire issues ever since ;). Back into the house, turned off the pot, unplugged it even, noticed it was puffing up nicely. sigh. and on my way I went.
Home an hour and a half later, I just plugged the pot back in and cooked for three hours before turning. It was no longer puffing up like it had been. as i've no experience with this cooking method so I didn't really worry. not really. Four more hours after the turn and I shut the whole thing off, allowing it to cool in the pot to room temp (while I slept) before tossing in plastic baggies (half for the 'fridge, half for the freezer) in the morning. Inoticed that the outside was not all that firm, that it actually had a lot of loose pieces hanging off of it.Mmmmmmm, I love this texture. I know a lot of people want it firm and dense all the way thru, but not me. I'm thinking my hand kneading actually produced the result I'm partial to. I love this shaggy, juicy exterior.This stuff is amazing to slice thin and I knew just what I'd do with it later that evening to test it out.
Burgundy Seitan! I didn't use a recipe, just winged it with marvelous results.
Slice seitan roast very thin and place slices in bowl with about 2 c. burgundy cooking wine. Meanwhile, slice thin 10-12 oz crimini mushrooms, 1/2 med onion, and three cloves garlic. Put 2T vegan margarine in hot skillet and add onion, garlic, and mushroom, and saute until onions are just getting soft. Put 3-4 heaping T of flour and salt and pepper into plastic baggie and, shaking off excess liquid, add seitan strips. Close bag and shake to coat. Place veggies in the bowl of wine. 2 T more marg. in the pan and cook coated seitan strips until they are browned on both sides. Dump in bowl of wine with veggies, add 1 heaping T brown sugar and about 1/2 tsp tarragon. On med to med hi heat, simmer until sauce thickens. Serve over grain or whole wheat pasta with a green vegetable. I just heated some frozen green beans and added salt, pepper, and almond slices. Delicious! Now that I know how well this stuff cooks up in this way, I plan to treat the Cap'n to Seitan Marsala tonight using the same method but with Marsala wine and lemon juice rather than burgundy wine and the sugar/taragon. I do adore the burgundy, but Marsala is the only wine left in the house! Then again, I may scrap the wine sauce altogether and go with a green curry. I know he loves a good curry. I'll let ya know if whatever we enjoy turns out as good or better than the original.