04 May 2013

Chicklets (Chickpea Cutlets)

I love cookbooks. I mean, I really LOVE them. When I get a new one, I read it cover to cover, just like a novel. I put in little bookmarks of scrap paper when I find a recipe in there I want to try, or I'll make a list on a big page as I go through the book, or both. I've got 25 cookbooks on my "Food" Amazon wishlist. One of the cookbooks that has led to a few of our favorite meals (include Penne Vodka and Seitan au Jus) is Veganomicon. It's the closest thing the vegan world has to The Joy of Cooking, if you don't count Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and it's been great to have at my fingertips since my dad give it to me a few Christmases ago.

Easily one of the more talked-about recipes before and right after the release of Veganomicon, Chickpea Cutlets have become a staple meal at our house, like many vegan households in the US. I've been wanting to post this recipe for a while, we just haven't had it recently. But, it came up in this week's meal-planning, so I jumped on the opportunity to make it. My deviations from the original recipe are both planned (the spices) and a happy accident (the amount of chickpeas I use). The original recipe calls for 1 cup of chickpeas, but I read 1 can. Whoops. Since the recipe turned out so well, I haven't bothered to change it back. Plus, this is a recipe that is incredibly omnivore-friendly. In fact, it's so good that my mom (who isn't always excited about trying new vegan food) requests them!



Chicklets
Adapted from Chickpea Cutlets in Veganomicon (page 133)
Ingredients
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4(ish) T. olive oil
1 c. vital wheat gluten
1 c. plain bread crumbs
1/2 c. vegetable broth
4 T. soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried sage
dash pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 375
1. Put chickpeas into a large bowl with the olive oil and mash.

2. Add all other ingredients and mix/knead with your hands for a few minutes. Ideally, strings of gluten will begin to form.

3. Put a thin coating of olive oil into two glass 9x13 baking dishes (or one really big one, if you have one).
4. Form patties with your hands (about the size of your palm) and place in baking dish, turning once to lightly coat both sides with oil.

5. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip and bake another 8 minutes, or until golden brown.

Helpful Hints
  • To mash the chickpeas, I use a potato masher. The mashing part of mine looks kind of like this one, but it has a single handle, which I'd recommend. You can use other things (I've even used a wooden bowling pin that my dad made), but this is a nice thing to have on hand.
  • Vital wheat gluten is a flour-like substance. You can usually find it by the flours in a small box. I buy Arrowhead Mills brand, which has 2 cups in each box. This brand is generally found in natural foods sections. 
  • One last ingredient note, which is about the bread crumbs. Bread crumbs are kind of a pain for a vegan. The VAST majority of bread crumbs available in grocery stores are not vegan, so read labels carefully. We use Wegmans Whole Wheat Unseasoned Bread Crumbs, but I've also found a brand in Minneapolis that is vegan (it comes in a light tan canister and has a woman on it, that's all I remember). In addition, you want just plain (no seasoning) bread crumbs and you do NOT want panko breadcrumbs.
  • These freeze like a dream! In fact, the recipe above is enough for Shana and I to eat while still having many left over to freeze. Make sure to put a piece of wax or parchment paper between each one, but then just put them in a freezer bag and go. They defrost pretty quickly in the microwave. 
  • If you are in a hurry, these can also be fried. They will only take about 6-7 minutes per side. You do tend to use more oil with this method. 
  • We dip these in ketchup, but you could other sauces (BBQ?). We also serve them with at least two veggies. 
  • The reason we call these "chicklets" is because elision is fun. 

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