I don’t know if any of you not related to me have been following the discussion in which I learned what pork is (it’s any pig meat, not just a certain type as I formerly believed) and was informed of all the forms of pork I used to eat as a child. Which is fine; I later saw the error of my ways, but I think we need to keep this information from my friend, Pig:
Pig is my traveling companion. We go on all sorts of adventures.
He often finds himself in trouble, I’m afraid.
We have traveled the world, though.
Anyway, within this pork discussion, my mother claimed she used to make pork chops although no one else in the family remembers any such incident of pork chop-making on my mother’s part. She did supply me with the barbecued pork chop recipe she used to allegedly make and I decided that the Smoked Seitan Butt and Green Beans recipe was such a surprise hit that I would veganize “my mother’s” pork chops!
I really hadn’t intended to do so until I was flipping through several cookbooks tonight, including Simply Heavenly!, and saw the UnPork recipes. Now since I never actually witnessed my mother making pork chops and have never consumed pork chops – I honestly have no idea what a pork chop even LOOKS like – I decided to just pick one of Abbott George’s four “pork” recipes and go with it. Although the ingredients are all his, I did alter the method slightly. Do I have any idea if this tastes remotely like pork? No. It’s actually pretty good though. And I was shocked to pull it out of the pressure cooker and find that it looked pretty much what I thought pork looked like; the color anyway. Which is a sort of a frankly unappetizing greyish white color.
I didn’t photograph the making of the UnPork, unfortunately. I was busy doing other things at the same time. Some of you are going to balk at the use of MSG, the use of which Abbott George makes an apologia in the introduction of the book. MSG doesn’t bother me. While I don’t think you should go willy-nilly throwing it into everything to make it taste better, there are times when its use can be justified. So I use it when it’s called for. If you don’t like MSG, just don’t use it. You might want to substitute soy sauce instead, or maybe just a little more salt, but I’m sure you can just omit it as well.
But on with the recipe:
Adapted from Simply Heavenly! by Abbott George Burke
1 onion, chopped finely
6 Tbsp MSG
4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tsp sage
4 tsp corn oil
8 cups water
2 cups vital wheat gluten
Mix together all ingredients except vital wheat gluten in a pressure cooker if you have one, or a Dutch oven if you don’t. Place the vital wheat gluten in a bowl and add 1 3/4 cup of the broth. Stir the gluten until it sticks together, then knead it with your hands until it forms a ball. You may want to do this before adding the onions to the broth so they aren’t incorporated into the gluten. I had a few holes in my finished gluten because of the onions, but this didn’t bother me. Bring the broth to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile, wrap the gluten up tightly in cheesecloth. Plunk the gluten into the pressure cooker or pot. If using a pressure cooker, bring it up to pressure and cook for 45 minutes, otherwise, cover the pot and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
I did manage a picture of it sitting in the broth after being pressure-cooked:
The original version calls for mixing the vital wheat gluten with water and then cooking it in the broth. I thought it would be neat to incorporate the broth flavorings into the seitan. I think it was a good idea.
This is what it looks like when it’s done. This is really what I thought pork looked like. Scary!
Now for the recipe my mother found in her recipe box and may have made for some mystery family that the rest of us don’t know about. First, the original in her words:
Barbecued Pork Chops
2-4 pork chops
1 (15 oz.) can tomatoes
1/4 cup vinegar (I think I used cider vinegar)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
salt & pepper to taste
Brown chops in small amount of fat in electric frying pan; remove. Add remaining ingredients for sauce to drippings; cook for 5 minutes. Add meat to sauce. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until tender.
Now my version:
1/2 recipe UnPork (see above)
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used diced and crushed them with an immersion blender)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
sriracha to taste
The first step is take your electric frying pan, if you have one, and donate it to Good Will. I’m simply baffled by the whole concept of electric frying pans.
Next, heat your (preferably cast iron) frying pan over medium heat, then add a little oil. If you are using nicely seasoned cast iron, you don’t need a lot of oil. My burners are not level and all the oil pools on one side, so what I like to do is brush the whole bottom surface of the frying pan with oil using a pastry brush.
I don’t know what a pork chop looks like, so I just sliced the UnPork into 1/2″ slabs …
… and fried until golden brown on both sides.
Remove the UnPork, then add the remaining ingredients to the pan. I had to add sriracha because I have difficulty comprehending barbeque sauce that isn’t spicy. Let the sauce bubble for a couple of minutes.
Add the UnPork slices, spooning the sauce over the tops so they are covered.
Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for half an hour or until the sauce has reduced somewhat.
I decided sauerkraut would be a good accompaniment to the pork chops. I have no idea what usually goes with pork chops.
The verdict? Mark really liked the seitan. He said it really tasted like pork, which is odd because he usually never says fake meat tastes anything like the real thing. He kept nabbing bits of the unused half and gobbling them up. It was slightly spicy from the red pepper flakes; just enough to have a little kick and make it interesting. The sauce was good, although I tasted it before adding the sriracha (which is not called for in the original) and was underwhelmed. With the sriracha, it was tasty. I would make it again.
And no, making this dish did NOT bring back any memories of my mother ever having made and served it, so I can’t say it’s a cherished family recipe or anything like that. But I did GET it from my family and it WAS pretty yummy. Since my mother has never been into cooking, I’m surprised to hear myself say this, but I think I’m going try veganizing some more family recipes…if we have any. Maybe my mom made some other interesting meals for the other family that got the pork chops all the time and she can give me those recipes.