Eating meat without eating meat

When we first started going meat free I thought it would be really hard to give up a lot of the dishes I loved, considering they all involved meat of some kind. Truth is, it’s not as hard as you would think it is. I love to cook so for me it has been a lot of fun researching ways to make food your mind would think is meat but really isn’t. Don’t you crave meat though? For the most part, no I really don’t. Your body craves what you get from meat, not the meat itself. As long as a I eat a well rounded diet and make sure I still get plenty of iron and protein then I don’t crave a ton of meat. I miss more of the flavor of the meats I used to eat then anything else. With a little creativity though you can make a lot of things that taste like what you gave up, it’s all in the right seasoning.

During the summer it’s a big time for burgers. Although it’s hard to recreate the actual taste of beef, there are lots of different types of completely meat free burgers you can make. For me, I personally like the feeling of holding and eating something that resembles a burger more than the being able to eat an actual hamburger. Melissa and I have always been into creating new types of burgers. You can make bean burgers, quinoa burgers, barley burgers, and my personal favorite portobello burgers. Today however I will be showcasing a new kind I have been wanting to do for awhile.

Back in December we ventured out to the Raleigh/Durham area with our visiting friends, Mike and CB. For lunch we stopped at a great brewery in Durham that was also a burger place. The only type on the menu we could order was the polenta burger. It was amazing and spiked my recent obsession with polenta and learning how to make it the perfect way. So last night for dinner I went for it and made polenta burgers with facon (fake bacon).

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1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Polenta Grits

1 cup almond milk

1 cup vegetable broth or stock (we keep both so I use whatever is closer to me)

1 cup water

1 tbs vegan butter

salt and pepper to taste

Making polenta is super easy. Basically you need 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of polenta. I like using a mixture of water, milk, and broth to get a full and creamy flavor. Bring your liquid and butter to a boil then add your polenta. Remove from heat and stir in a little salt, pepper, and whatever other seasoning you like. I typically use dill in mine because I like the way it tastes. Stir the polenta for about 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed to the desired consistency. For this sake I made mine a little thicker knowing it was for patties.

Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and spread your polenta out for as thick as you would like your patties. Cover and let set until cool then place in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook. This way it will be firm enough to form patties.

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When your ready, cut patties the size you would like (I used a round cookie cutter to make it easy). It should make 6-8 depending on how thin you spread it out. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a little butter to the pan and fry your patties until golden brown and crispy on the outside (about 5 minutes per side)

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For the bacon I am actually just going to post the website I took the recipe from. This is a great site that give you a bunch of different options to make bacon.

Here is the one I made:

1 package firm tofu (frozen and thawed completely, then pressed for at least a half hour)

1 tbs nutritional yeast

1 tbs water

2 tbs maple syrup

2 tbs liquid smoke flavoring

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2 tbs low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbs vegan butter

Slice the thawed tofu into very thin slices. In a medium bowl, stir together the yeast, water, maple syrup, liquid smoke, soy sauce, onion powder, and garlic powder. Place the tofu strips into the bowl to marinate for at least 10 minutes

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Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Quickly fry the tofu strips until crisp, turning once. Mine were about 5 minutes per side but check after a few minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Serve immediately.

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I made my polenta burgers with a little vegan mayo, the bacon, and some sauteed mushrooms on a whole wheat bun with some homemade seasoned steak fries on the side. They were delicious. I couldn’t have been happier with my first bacon attempt. If anyone chooses to venture into making this please let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!

-Chef Drew


One thought on “Eating meat without eating meat

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