If you're a vegetarian with a few Thanksgiving's under your belt, you'll feel me on this one. I've been a vegetarian for over 15 years and luckily much of my family is also meat free - makes family get togethers that involve food (let's face it, almost all of them do!) a breeze. When I was newly meat free and it wasn't as mainstream as it seems to be, the question about Thanksgiving would inevitably come up - "...but, what do you eat on Thanksgiving?" Like those of us who aren't eating turkey are going hungry on Thanksgiving while the rest of the country gorges on everything from sweet potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, cranberries and pumpkin pie. Dude we can eat all that and there are some pretty good Turkey stand-ins to boot!
This year my cousins had been talking about the real Tofurkey and how the texture creeped out my cousin B. Cousin M thought we ought to try our own version of this meat free poultry stunt double. He mentioned it in passing late Wednesday night. I wondered if he had a recipe in mind. He said no, he was just planning on winging it. I'm pro-recipe, so I looked up a few recipes online. We ended up using one from vegweb.com as a guide and then somewhat winging it, since we got a very late start and were working with much less tofu than the recipe called for.
Here's roughly what we did:
3 packages extra firm tofu drained (we actually had one extra firm, one firm and one silken - not ideal from a texture standpoint)
dried minced onion
2-3 smaller portabello mushrooms chopped
Mix all the tofu in a food processor until smooth. Eyeball your spices and add them all to the tofu along with the chopped portabello mushrooms. We went for more spices, wanting more of a robust flavor rather than just the bland tofu.
Once everything was blended smooth, we spooned the mixture into a sieve lined with a clean kitchen towel (I'd suggest a smooth, thin one, rather than a thick textured one!), covered the top and placed a large rock on the top to help press the liquid out. The recipe we followed said to press for 2-3 hours, or overnight. We maybe managed 3 hours and there was barely any liquid in the bowl below the sieve. The towel was wet though, so I guess we got some liquid out.
Looks like a dip, but it's not! Tofu mixture in towel-lined sieve.
Towel-lined sieve, placed in a bowl with a rock on top.
Next, we shaped it into a log shape in a glass 9x13 pan and put it in the oven at 350. We mixed up the "glaze" in the recipe - basically red wine, balsamic vinegar and some of the same spices we used for the tofu mixture. Had we pressed the tofu mixture longer, the glaze probably would have worked a bit better. Our "log" sort of spread out flat. I believe we baked it for about an hour or an hour and a half. I sort of lost track!
Tofu log, ready for the oven!
The finished product. It's not pretty, but it's a tasty meat-free alternative to turkey.
My cousin and I did a ceremonial first bite at the dinner table - both a little scared it wasn't going to be any good. It didn't look pretty, but it tasted good! I was surprised and relieved. We'll have to get an earlier start next year and use all extra firm tofu rather than the mixture we used. It was so much fun though and I can't wait to try making this again!