Personally, I’ve never had a problem eating too much meat on holidays. I’m much, much more of a carbohydrate person. Pass the potatoes, pass the rolls. And yes, please, more cheese! But it wasn’t until I started on this two-day adventure that I realized how much I missed the taste of the spices that go into a traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Last year I roasted my very own Thanksgiving bird for the first time. And this year, now that I’m meat-free? Well..
Are you recoiling in horror? Last Year's Katie would be, for sure.
I’ll be the first to admit this started off as a big joke. My coworkers were sitting around one Friday afternoon, making light of my food choices and teasing me about the upcoming holiday “treats” I’d have available. After a lot of laughter, a quick Google search led me to this:
It was then, at the prospect of cramming a meat substitute into a Jell-o mold, that I knew I had to do this. I had to make my very own Tofurkey. Now, I’m the only one in my entire family that will eat this, so it’s probably best that the Jell-o mold is only about the size of cornish game hen. If I remember correctly, it cost about $12 and I think shipping was free, so if you’re up for a Turkey-Day Giggle, this is a good buy. And besides, just think of all the off-season uses one can get with this mold..
…yep. I didn’t come up with any, either. But I will make it my personal mission to use it each November.
Anyway. I noticed in the brand-name Tofurkey they have stuffing. I saw all types of stuffing mix I could have used in my cooking adventure, but in an attempt to stay true to my gluten-free lifestyle, I decided it was safer to just make it myself. Gluten Free Girl has a fabulous and easy stuffing recipe! So, even though I didn’t focus on one item at a time, we’re going to pretend I did for the purpose of this story. Also, keep in mind that this was a two day process for me (an hour or so the first day and then another the next, plus baking time).
Recipe: Homemade Tofurkey
- 32 ounces No-Chicken broth (or, really, any vegetable broth you’d like)
- 2 packages extra firm tofu (I think they were about 15 ounces each)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Number of servings (yield): 4
It starts here. This is a tip I saw posted on a recipe blog and I figured, why not? My biggest pet peeve about tofu is that it's difficult to flavor the inside.
A word about the above picture. I love No-Chicken broth. I didn’t even know it was a thing until I was at Henry’s searching desperately for a gluten-free stuffing mix (turns out, I had to make my own). It tastes remarkably like the real deal with none of the vegan-guilt I’ve been harboring since February. Also, it’s a refreshing alternative to vegetable broth.
Step One: Bring your broth to a boil — I used two containers of broth. And only one of them was No-Chicken because, in my head, one container of broth would be enough. I was wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I later had to make my own broth just to make the stuffing (because it was Sunday morning and I’d rather wait the twenty minutes for homemade vegetable broth than shower and go anywhere. Unless it’s Starbucks for a peppermint latte, but that trip doesn’t really require a shower, since they have a drive-thru…). So, while you have 32 ounces of broth starting to boil, take your non-GMO tofu out of the packages and cut it up into large squares. Maybe smaller squares are better, but I didn’t think about that until I’d already let them set sail. Boil for twenty minutes. Or thirty. Thirty is okay, too. (I’m not what you’d call a precise cook.)
Yep. There they are. It's like miso soup for giants.
Step Two: Drain the tofu. NOW! This is what I’d wished I’d done: Don’t throw the broth away. You can use it in your stuffing, since there’s no crazy cross-meat contamination or anything. But, I was a goofball and poured it all down the sink only to find out I needed broth for the stuffing. If you have a third container of broth, you’re welcome to it, but why not recycle?
See how it's more of a color now? I think the broth worked.
Step Three: Here comes the first fun part. Throw it all into a food processor until it’s super smooth. Toss in the salt, marjoram, poultry seasoning and pepper. If I were you, I’d be careful with the salt and pepper. Add to your taste, because there’s no adding more tofu to balance it out, unless you just happen to have this stuff stock piled somewhere.
My mother calls this "Gerber." Don't listen to her.
Step Four: Now comes the waiting. You need to take the tofu mixture out of your food processor and put it into a paper towel-lined sieve for a few hours. I’m pretty sure you could let it sit for just two hours and let it drain out of the sieve and into a bowl underneath, but I let it rest in the ‘fridge over night.
It kind of looks like turkey-flavored hummus. It's also pretty wet at this point. No way it would make it in the oven. You really need to let it drain.
Here we are, ready to drain! Not shown is the giant measuring bowl I have the sieve resting in. I put a paper towel on top, as well, to soak moisture from all sides while it rests.
Step Five: Now the really fun part! It’ll bring you back to playing with play-dough, I promise. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and fetch your tofu from the ‘fridge.
That's right, we're going to shove the tofu into this sucker.
Now, it took me three times before I got this right. The first time I pushed the tofu into the mold without any concern, whatsoever, as to how I was going to get it out. When it came time to flip it onto the baking pan, it just sat there in the mold. The second time I sprayed non-stick olive oil spray in and re-loaded it with tofu. Nothing. So! The third time I remembered how easy it was to transfer the tofu from the sieve with the paper towels, so I just put one sheet of paper towel into the mold and pressed the tofu in on top of it. My mother has since pointed out that plastic wrap would have worked better and she’s absolutely right. You may go back to listening to her now.
We'll assume you've prepared the stuffing by this point, and you can spoon some into the center of your tofurkey. Honestly, there isn't a lot of room because this mold is so tiny, but it's cute for presentation.
Step Six: Turn your mold upside down onto your baking sheet and get ready to bake it. I didn’t wrap mine with tinfoil while it was baking, because there isn’t a whole lot of moisture to be lost, I didn’t think. But that could be a personal preference. While it bakes for the first 3o minutes, begin preparing the glaze. Oh yes, there is a glaze.
Get out of there!
Recipe: Tofurkey Glaze
- 1 teaspoon BBQ sauce (I used Fresh and Easy’s Honey BBQ)
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
- 1 teaspoon orange juice
Yes, it cracked. My tofu walls may have been on the thin side or maybe tinfoil for the first 30 minutes really is the way to go. I didn't mind, though. On goes the delicious orange glaze!
Return the glazed bird to the oven for another twenty minutes. When you take it out, it should look something like this:
The best part about that glaze? It makes a crispy skin on your tofurkey!
And now, dive in!
I had so much stuffing and a little of the tofurkey left over, so I made myself a casserole.
Honestly? I really like it. It has none of the consistency of meat but a lot of the flavor. My husband was a good sport and tasted it, but I'm pretty sure this is all for me.
I failed to mention the delicious cashew-based pumpkin pie I whipped up in the middle of all of this, but we’ll talk about that next week! See you then!