Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegan MoFo: Spiced seitan tacos with bourbon reduction (B is for Bourbon)

Day two of MoFo! Yay! So I have something to confess to you guys. I sat down ahead of time and planned out the first full week of MoFos... A through G, what dishes I was going to make, what recipes I was going to use. Very responsible! Very organized!

Then I promptly lost the list, somewhere between making it and going to the grocery store to get supplies. Oops.

I realized I had misplaced it while we were in the car going to the grocery store. I mentioned it to my husband, who was half listening to me drone on about cooking/food the same way that I politely half-listen to him natter on about tanks and electronic music and such. "What," I wondered aloud, "starts with B that you can eat? Other than bananas? I think maybe I was going to do black pepper."


"Or... bourbon?" I said. "Or berries or black beans or--"

"You could do a bourbon reduction. Didn't we see that on Top Chef? I have some bourbon. You could use my bourbon," Josh kindly offered.

And from there, we were off and running! He suggested doing tofu tacos with a bourbon sauce. I had already been planning on making the Savory Seitan out of American Vegan Kitchen for the last day of week 2 of the PPK Cookbook Challenge, so I suggested using that as the filling instead and he agreed that sounded tasty. We pulled out some swiss chard from the farmer's market and sauteed that as a side et voila, dinner was served.

J is practically peeing himself with anticipation over this post, he's so happy with how dinner turned out. But before I soothe his ego by posting about his masterpiece on the internets, I need to take a moment to talk about the AVG seitan.

The AVG seitan? IT IS GREAT. I kind of waffled on making it for this. I didn't have enough vital wheat gluten and didn't want to go to the grocery store and was almost like "let's just use tofu" and "jeez do I really need one more seitan recipe in my repetoire?" Answer to the latter: YES! yes you do! I am a biiiiig texture person and I have to tell you, this seitan has an amazingly excellent texture. Chewy, but not rubbery, or dense, or brainy, or gross in any other way. Just really great. The flavor's good too, good enough that you can just eat this stuff on its own.

And it's good that it's such great seitan because man, it is a lot of work. You have to fry and THEN bake the seitan! And this is after making them into cutlets! Here they are after the frying step. Aren't they beautiful?

Savory Seitan

By the way, you know how you make seitan cutlets if you are really lazy? Do not break out the rolling pin and the wax paper. That is way too much work for way too little pay off. Take out your tortilla press instead! Put a ball of seitan dough in it and squash it flat, just like you would a tortilla. Seitan will probably ooze out the sides of the press, but that's okay... you get a super thin circle and then when you open up the press, it'll spring back into exactly the right size and shape to form a nice cutlet.

Seitan squishing

Okay okay. Seitan, shmaytan. I know you want the good stuff, so on to the spiced seitan with bourbon reduction etc etc. (J says: UNCLE BOURBAN! ... no one will get the reference.)

This is really a simple recipe, but the bourbon lends it a certain je ne sais quoi-- it has nuances, people. Nuances! We based our version on an uncredited pork (yuck) recipe we found on the interwubs, so this is not an original brand new creation, but I'm posting our take on it anyway so you know that it veganizes really easily and really well.

Spiced seitan tacos with bourbon reduction

Spiced Seitan Tacos with Bourbon Reduction
makes 8 small tacos


Bourbon sauce
1c bourbon
1/2c dark brown sugar
1/2c reduced sodium soy sauce (if you use full sodium, this will be salty as hell)
6 tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground black pepper

1lb seitan, cut into strips (a half recipe of Savory Seitan from American Vegan Kitchen, or your seitan of choice)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tbsps olive oil

To serve:

8 small corn tortillas, store bought or homemade

1. Put all the sauce ingredients (bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, ACV, garlic, pepper) in a small sauce pan and whisk well to combine.
2. Bring mixture to a boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half (leaving you with ~1c sauce), 15-20 minutes, stirring often.

4. While bourbon sauce reduces, prepare the seitan. Combine chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt, then add to a medium mixing bowl along with seitan strips. Toss to coat.
5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan (we used cast iron) over medium heat.
6. Add the spiced seitan strips and cook, stirring frequently, til browned on the outsides, 10 minutes or so.

7. If using pre-made corn tortillas, warm them while heating the seitan & reducing the bourbon sauce. Keep them soft by wrapping the heated tortillas in a towel.
8. When sauce is adequately reduced and seitan is browned, remove both sauce & seitan from heat. Divide the seitan evenly among eight tortillas and top with a couple spoonfuls of sauce.

How was it? It was freaking delicious. A little on the salty side-- you definitely don't want to use full sodium soy sauce here, and I'd say that if you're not a salt person, you might even want to halve the soy sauce and make up the difference with water. It's also got a real sweetness to it that's part of its charm. Between the sugar and the bourbon, this tastes caramel-like at times. The seitan stands up nicely to the sauce without overpowering it (despite the huge pile o' spices). True delight.

The only disappointment was the corn tortillas. We used store bought and they were just too tough. I'm kind of spoiled on homemade tortillas ever since Viva Vegan came out and really we should have just made our own... next time!

We had dessert a few hours after this, because B isn't just for Bourbon. It's also for Berries! Strawberries! We had some that were on their way out, so I sliced them up and put them into Mom's Tapioca Pudding from American Vegan Kitchen. I added a little nutmeg on top because I put nutmeg on everything. (Guess what we're doing for the letter N people?!) Delicious.

Strawberry tapioca pudding

Love how bright pink it was in the loaf pan I let it cool in.

Strawberry tapioca pudding 2

Closeup of a serving... not as fantastically pink, but a little more appealing overall.

The Emperor loved both dinner and dessert. He kept asking for more seitan... more seitan... more seitan. And then more tapioca, more tapioca, more tapioca. He is really annoyingly choosy about food at home these days (though he'll eat whatever they put in front of him at preschool... what gives, kid?) so to have two nights in a row where he actually ate dinner-- that's exciting.

Here's your bonus picture of him, by the way, a little earlier in the day. He ate that entire pear, core and stem and all. He is cool like that.

Pear share


celyn said...

That meal looks amazing! And the Emperor is adorable.

Lauren said...

That looks so good! :) Yum!!!

Andy Dufresne said...

Ooou bourbon reduction? Wow!

Erinwiko said...

Sounds amazing, I'm impressed!

Jeni Treehugger said...

I just licked my monitor!!
That looks so crazy good.

JL Goes Vegan said...

I love seitan. I love tacos. This recipe has been tagged! Looks amazing.

Sarah said...

Everything is better Bourbon! Also, neat trick with the tortilla press!

Catofstripes said...

mmmmm, mmmmn, bourbon. That is all.

Veganosaurus said...

A,B,C... holey moley, you're really organized!!

The seitan and the ooey gooey berry dessert, both look delish! But I couldn't concentrate on the recipe. You know why? Because from the point of reading the "Uncle Bourban" comment, I got really curious about what the reference was and couldn't focus on the rest of the post!! lol

You little boy look sooo happy with that pear. So cute! :)

Becky said...

Oh my! What a great idea for using a tortilla press to make the seitan cutlets!! I am so excited for this. And bourbon... It's nice to have bourbon on hand at all time, too ^_^

Mandi said...

that looks amazing! you have inspired me to consider conquering my fear of making seitan.

Kath said...

Those tacos!!!!
Oh I am so definitely trying these when I've figured out seitan! said...

Oh my goodness, those tacos look wonderful!

Amey said...

wow, amazing! that seitan really does look beautiful. I love that you are using that book and you can tell me what to make! Mmmmm. I'm definitely going to bookmark this recipe, I think Mr. Mustos would love it.

adriennefriend said...

oh, my, yummmmmmm. beautiful post.

solipsistnation said...

Re: Uncle Bourban:

Nobody probably thinks this is as funny as I do.

Erin said...

The bourbon reduction sounds super delicious on seitan!

Nicola said...

Woah the tacos looks ridiculously gorgeous.


laura said...

wow, you took losing your shopping list much better than i would. that's the kind of thing that would send me into a rage. all that planning, gone!

also, love your theme!