A Tale of Two Jerkies
If you’re looking for a healthy snack and/or a meat substitute that holds up well to sauces and gravies, you may want to consider making or purchasing vegan jerky. There are a number of commercial products that are available for purchase. These products are convenient to use and since they don’t need to be refrigerated, you can order them on-line without the need for having to purchase an insulated foam shipping box.
For those of you who enjoy cooking, you can easily make your own jerky at home. Free recipes for this product abound on the internet. The procedure is really quite simple. Start by making your favorite “ground meat.” The meat in this picture was made from a combination of textured vegetable protein mixed with various flavorings, apple juice, ground flax seeds (as a binder), and gluten. After making this soy product, I rolled it flat on a sheet pan lined with a silicone baking mat and baked it low and slow in an oven at 250°F for two hours. After two hours, I took the pan out of the oven, gently pried up the edges of the silicone mat, and flipped the entire product face down on the pan. I then peeled off the mat and baked the TVP for another two hours until the product was thoroughly dry.
The resulting jerky has a number of uses. I eat them as snacks. I used them as a meat substitute since they hold up well to sauces and gravies. I also coarsely grind vegan jerky in a food processor and mix this in with additional vegan ground meat. Since the dried jerky is more resistant to absorbing moisture than regular “ground meat” a combination of dried jerky with a vegan ground meat allows one to make all sorts of products such as meatballs, meat loaf, burgers, and steaks. This product will not turn into a formless mush when paired with a sauce or gravy.
The contrasting textures also make this vegan meat more realistic. As any former meat eater knows, real ground beef include fat mixed with various cuts of ground meat. Some of this ground meat is tender while others are tough. The end result is that when you bit into a real hamburger, your teeth should encounter some resistance. This is incidentally my single biggest criticism of commercially produced garden burgers. It is my personal opinion that a real burger should have contrasting textures.
Pictured below are two types of vegan jerky. The one on the left was commercially produced by Primal. This is a seitan based (wheat gluten) product that comes in 1 oz. individually packaged marinated strips. Primal produces six varieties that include teriyaki, hot and spicy, hickory smoked, Thai peanut, mesquite lime, and Texas BBQ.
The one on the right is a product that I made at home. This is a textured vegetable protein and wheat gluten product.
In addition to grinding jerky and mixing it with a vegan ground meat to make such product as meatballs and meatloaf, vegan jerky may be sliced and cooked as is. Pair this jerky with a vegan brown gravy to simulate a pot roast. Pan fry diced vegan jerky, add some liquid smoke, and toss it in your favorite BBQ sauce to make a barbecue. Grind the vegan jerky and cook up a Sloppy Joe. Add jerky to a stir fry. Add it to curried vegetables. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Pictured below – Top Left: Beef Teriyaki, Top Right: Pot Roast, Bottom Left: Green Chile Sloppy Joes, Bottom Right: Sweet and Sour Pork
Although commercially produced products are certainly convenient to use, it is actually much cheaper to make this product at home. Teriyaki flavored Primal Jerky purchased through Amazon.com costs $25.32 for 1 ½ pounds. This comes to $1.05 per oz. Amazon prime members do not pay shipping costs. In contrast, vegan jerky made at home costs $6.62 for 2 ½ pounds. This costs 17 cents per oz.
In a shameless effort at self-promotion, please be aware that I am writing a series of vegan cookbooks called, “The Unintentional Vegan – Vegan Version Recipes of Popular Comfort Foods.” Volume 1: Beef is available for purchase as an e-book through Amazon.com. Recipes for making soy ground meats, vegan jerky, meatloaf, Swedish meatballs, green chili Sloppy Joes, burgers, and other products may all be found in this cookbook.
If you don’t have an e-book, you may download a free kindle reader to your home computer. If you’re an Amazon prime member, you may even borrow my e-book for free!
For those of you who are interested, I have a blog at: http://www.unintentionalvegan.com This blog includes a daily journal as well as a selection of free recipes.