Today we are tasked with making a meal for you that will be used as a different meal tomorrow... you know, repurposing leftovers. For those of you who don't want to read, scroll down for the pictures and recipe link at the end. For those that want to read, here we go.
I bring you now, Miyoko Schinner's famous Unturkey!
Does anyone remember Now and Zen company when it first began and was founded by the amazing so far ahead of her time Miyoko Schinner? Yes, the same Miyoko who is now famous for her groundbreaking non-dairy artisan vegan cheeses! That company was close to my heart for 2 things.... vegan chocolate pudding, and the Unturkey. Nope, not Tofurky (which I crush majorly on as well), but UNturkey. This was one of the first (perhaps THE first?) vegan turkey analogues. I bought my first one around 20 years or so, give or take, in a crunchy granola store down the shore. Interesting look on the box, interesting concept especially with Thanksgiving coming up and me expected to produce dinner for the family and a few friends. I labored for hours in the kitchen with sides, a from scratch meal and the Unturkey (that part was fast, the rest not so much). When I sat down to the table, I cut the Unturkey, plated the food and took a bite. My first bite included yuba "skin" (commonly referred to as "bean curd sheets I later learned). Listen, I'm the one who bought the thing, cooked the thing, and plated the thing. I had full and total control the entire time, yet I swore up and down that someone made a mistake and I was eating animal skin. I was horrified. I ran to the box to read the ingredients again. Vegan. But HOW???? I peeled the weirdness off anyway, still convinced it was flesh. It wasn't. It was bean curd sheets, which is a skin that forms when soy milk is produced. Back then I had no idea. I came to learn that indeed it's vegan, and I continued to buy Unturkey until gasp.... it was DISCONTINUED! Looking up the dates, the Internet tells me it went away in 2006 but it seems to me it was way before then that I lost my true love, the Unturkey.
After a few years I stumbled upon a few threads confirming the Unturkey had gone to it's Unrainbow Bridge because the company was sold. Miyoko was no longer associated with Now and Zen so that explained it. But the greatest thing happened, the recipe was eventually shared. Years ago I was stalking some zombie threads and found an underground recipe version before Miyoko published it. Please remember, back then the extent of my cooking ability was dialing out for pizza (w/o cheese of course, again so far before Daiya or anything of the like). I did not cook. Reading the underground version long ago it was far too complicated for me to even consider. I was happy because Tofurky is one of my holiday loves and we remained besties (still to this day!) But I never forgot my other love, the Unturkey. I decided to finally make an Unturkey after watching Miyoko's video about 10 times (not kidding) quite a few years after moving here, as by then I had enough years of serious cooking sorcery under my belt. It really did not look that difficult, but WTF is this bean curd sheet thing? I made my first Unturkey maybe 3 years ago. I couldn't find yuba. Let me tell you, I'm hardcore.... I made my own yuba. It was one of the messiest and most frustrating things I've ever done. But, I persisted and had enough to cover an Unturkey after maybe 2-2.5 hours at the stove. Mine was sloppy.... yuba is produced in drum size containers of the 55 gallon variety which makes a big ass sheet of yuba. Being that I'm not a commercial tofu or soy milk producer I used my largest skillet and went to town. That first Unturkey wasn't as pretty as Miyoko's on line video version, nor the one I pulled from the box, but damn it was delicious. And HUGE, over 10 pounds.
I'd like to stop writing here, but there's more.
I got up extra early this morning to make a second Unturkey for Vegan Month of Food. The first I made yesterday but there was a mistake in the measurements of the recipe I followed. The seitan loaf itself didn't come out perfect so I decided no biggie I'll make another one, the first one we'll use for deli slices. Get this.... last night in preparation for this morning's second Unturkey prep, I reached out to the most revered Miyoko herself and guess what SHE WROTE BACK! I would be starstruck meeting her in person. I have so much respect for her. She was so far ahead of her time with the Now and Zen company, and being a woman at the helm to boot. Really, I have so much admiration for her for these reasons. Anyway, back to the second Unturkey....
Today absolutely spiraled far out of control with animal issues. If you read my facebook page, you have an idea of one of the issues, but trust me there were more. I'm skipping over it, really. I had started to mix my Unturkey when things began to go wrong. I left one of the necessary bags of gluten at the market. Paid for. Lying there lonely on a converyor belt when it needed to be here. The other happy vegan was already out for another emergency and said he'd pick up the gluten. He did. But then I had my own non-MoFo emergency. All the partially mixed dough got put to the side with a damp towel over the already huge vat of gluten mix and I left. I didn't get back to it for close to FIVE HOURS. Five hours of it just lying in a stainless bowl, growing and growing. When I got back to it, the towel was dry, the mix had grown and it was taking over my bowl. I said "f-this" and reshaped it into a log as it was and began the baking & cooking process. When it finally came out of the broth about 1.5 hours later, it was so huge it began to crack in 2. At this point I was (still am actually) continuing to deal with the other plural emergencies at hand. I again said "f-it" and decided to run with it anyway. I soaked the bean curd sheets. Seriously, look at the shit it ended up to be:
|Dammit! This is supposed to be a SHEET!|
A FREAKING SHEET! NOT CRUMBS!!!
As you will note from the photo above, my dehydrated bean curd sheet (my ass!) was pulverized to bits. I salvaged what I could to cover my beloved Unturkey which was going south so quickly my head was spinning. Apparently I should've checked the Asian market freezer or refrigerator case for FRESH bean curd sheets. Friends, NEVER buy these dehydrated pieces of you know what or you'll be sorry. But, again, that was my first ever trip to the Asian market last week for "hot without chilies" day, don't you remember my glee? Yeah, it was all sucked out of me today when I opened my beany curd sheet (my ass!) package. BOO HISS.
If you follow the recipe on the link I'm providing below, you will have at least 10 pounds of Unturkey. I know perhaps it's not elegant but neither is a dead turkey with stuffing shoved up his ass. ASS STUFFING! How can anyone eat that?!!! Go for the Unturkey, I mean, have some fun won't you? Now that I've made my Unturkey, I have all that leftover for tomorrow's prompt which is "use leftovers from yesterday's recipe." Leftovers? Oh heck, I got 'em, I got 'em good.
Without further nonsense of the day that turned to shit, here are more pictures, and the link. As I said, this is Unturkey, not something super elegant. These pictures look a little freaky, to say the least!
|This is how my second Unturkey came out after baking (before simmering)|
It grew so much that it
actually hit the rack above, despite me pre adjusting the racks immensely.
|How can I in all good conscience publish such an ugly photo you ask?|
I respond "because it's real!"
This is the bean curd sheets (my ass!) lining my roasting pan
along with the bottom of my unturkey sliced after simmering for an hour.
|This is a huge volume of stuffing placed over the bottom piece.|
|This is my Unturkey after placing the top split piece back on over the stuffing.|
It's covered with bean curd sheets (my ass!) and basted with the seasoning mix.
|This is part of the reason we have no video tonight.|
I had visions of me in the kitchen tonight gracefully showing you how to rehydrate bean curd sheets (my ass!) as I waxed poetic about the ease and simplicity of applying said sheets. Uh.... no.
|This is what we saw when the other happy vegan sliced it!|
|And, this was the plate I made for him.|
Perhaps I should've saved my bean curd sheets (my ass!) for "fail day." But, this isn't a fail overall it's just a crappy package and I shouldn't have gotten the dried version. Guess what I have another pack of the bean curd sheets (my ass!) so I'll have to find some way to use them up. For now, I've got about 9.5 pounds of Unturkey left for tomorrow and I swear I'm going to find some way to incorporate those bean curd sheet (my ass!) bits into tomorrow's recipe along with the Unturkey leftovers if it kills me.
Here's the link:
Also, here's a different link which is to the video demo Miyoko published. The audio quality is exceptionally poor, but this was so helpful to me to actually watch her make it so here it is for you:
Now, my parting comments. Firstly, I found a link that said use 4 cups gluten, in fact it may even be in that video link. When you see that DON'T DO IT! The correct quantity is 8 cups of gluten. Yup, EIGHT! That was part of my fail for the first Unturkey I was making for this post.
Secondly, this makes a huge roast, absolutely huge. You can halve the recipe, but if you do halve ALL OF IT, not just the gluten, ok? But, my thought is you're going to all this effort to make this, why not just make the giant one, and have leftovers and/or freeze some of it. Really, you will love this. Make it in a pretty roasting dish. You most likely will not be able to lift it out of the roasting pan to place on a platter. I forgot that part and instead used one of my large stainless roasters which I use to make those oven roasted seasoned potatoes that you feasted on all those years. Remember?
Thirdly, this is so not for every day eating. There's oil (which I omitted entirely from the gravy by the way). There's sodium. But, hey to answer the age old question of protein, there is officially a crap ton of protein in this recipe, seriously it's almost off the charts. Give it up to vital wheat gluten for protein content. My point is, before anyone starts crying of how unhealthy this is, consider what too many DO eat on holidays anyway.... it's not healthy and it sure wasn't healthy for the carcass considered a centerpiece either, was it?
If you have any questions, fire them off to me, I promise I'll answer you if I see it. You can always email me at the bed and breakfast too. Do not be intimidated by this recipe. And, if you happen to get pulverized bean curd sheets (my ass!) like I did just rehydrate the bits anyway, squeeze the water out and scoop them with a spoon over your Unturkey. It will crisp up anyway, and you sure know it by now it's not animal flesh... yet crispy and succulent. If you cannot find the bean curd sheets (my ass!) either make your own (messy and time consuming) or just omit it. The world won't stop spinning if you make your Unturkey without those bean curd sheets (my ass!)
Wasn't this fun?