Monday, January 29, 2007

Vegan Chicken Fried Steak

I never thought I would see those words together in the title of today's lunch, and of course there's really no chicken or steak (heck, it's not even fried), but that's honestly the best name that I could come up with to describe this delicious food that came about as the result of a friend's idea. In case you haven't noticed, I have been obsessing here recently about locating the vegan Boca Chik'n Patties. They make a couple of different versions and one is vegan and one is not. My local grocer used to carry the vegan ones, but for some reason they switched and now carry the non-vegan ones. Well, I finally found a different store which carries the vegan ones and I stocked up this weekend. I ate a sandwich or two this weekend (with Vegenaise & pickles), and figured out something else really delicious to do with them sandwich-style, but I'll share that with you in another lunch. Right now, I have to tell you about this delicious creation.

This is, without a doubt, the most delicious vegan comfort food meal that I have ever had. First, I've got the Vegan Chicken Fried Steak, which is nothing but a vegan Boca Chik'n Patty covered with a delicious vegan brown gravy. This gravy is so good, and it's even fat free! The recipe is really easy, but I did spice mine up just a little bit by adding about 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder along with just a pinch of sage and thyme. It just boggles my mind that you can make gravy like this and it can taste so delicious and be fat-free. Of course, that just gives me all the justification I need to pour it on top of everything. When I first took a bite of this I couldn't believe it. It actually doesn't taste like a chicken patty with gravy on it, it actually tastes EXACTLY like those Salisbury Steaks that come in frozen dinners. Now, I know those things are nasty, and goodness knows what kind of "meat" they are made of, but back in my omnivore days I LOVED that stuff. I am so happy now that I've found a yummy vegan alternative to something that I always considered to be one of my top ten comfort foods. It tastes just like "the real thing" (whatever that means) but it is so much healthier. And the fact that it's cruelty-free, and devoid of any disgusting ingredients, just makes it taste that much better. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I'm the only vegan who used to like stuff like this. If you used to enjoy food like this back in your omni days, I HIGHLY recommend you try this sometime. You won't believe how delicious this is.

I also brought along some standard side dishes that go with a meal like this. I've got some green beans, along with some homemade mashed potatoes covered with some more of that yummy brown gravy. The potatoes are just mashed up with some soy milk, some Earth Balance, a little vegan sour cream and then seasoned with some garlic salt & pepper. Delicious!

To top it off, I even got a wild hair and made some homemade rolls. This may sound funny, but to make rolls, I normally just use my old faithful favorite pizza crust recipe and add two packages of yeast instead of just one, and I add 3 Tbsp. of sugar. It makes awesome rolls. I think I ate four of these last night with melted Earth Balance all over them. It doesn't get much better than that.

This meal is basically vegan cafeteria food. Again, I may be the only one (but I doubt it), but I always loved going to cafeterias when I was an omnivore and dining on all of that meat loaf, country fried steak, vegetables, mashed potatoes & gravy and a basket full of homemade rolls. That's completely out of the question now, of course, but back before I became aware of how unhealthy that food was, and the amount of suffering and death that went into making it, I really did see it as comfort food, and that's exactly what it was to me. Once the curtain was lifted though, and I accepted where that food was coming from, it became obvious that I would never find any type of "comfort" in those foods again.

So imagine how happy I am now to have a vegan version of a meal like that sitting right in front of me. And actually, from what I do remember about the last meat-filled cafeteria meal that I had, I swear that THIS tastes better. Maybe it's just because I know it's vegan, maybe it's just because I used more spices than they probably do in a cafeteria. Who knows? Maybe it really IS better!?!?!?!

So if you're one of the vegans who would enjoy a meal like this (I realize not all vegans are into replicating meals like this) I really do recommend that you try it. This really was one of the best, and most comforting, vegan meals that I have had in a long time, maybe ever!

So I guess that does it for Monday. I am off to heat my lunch up in the microwave. I can't wait until all of the omnivores over in the break area smell this brown gravy and homemade bread heating up. I know they will be drooling. Just another chance for me to show people how delicious vegan food can be. I mean, honestly, even if you were a meat-eater, wouldn't you rather have this lunch instead of a nasty old bologna sandwich?

Gosh I can't wait to eat this...



Kat said...

Oh no, you're not the only one -- the big frozen tray of salisbury steak horrors (On-Cor brand, I think?) was a staple of my childhood, and despite knowing how gross the ingredients are, I remember them fondly. This is such a simple, great idea -- can't wait to try it!

And oh, I'm quite a lurker, but your lunches are so inspiring. I went and bought a laptop lunchbox and have been obsessed with building tasty lunches ever since. You rock!

Anna said...

That looks like a good meal! I have been wondering whether you have some way at work to reheat your food or whether you eat it cold/lukewarm?

If you do reheat do you microwave the containers or do you put it on a plate and heat it that way?


Elissa said...

You should tell your grocery store that you'd like them to return to carrying the vegan patties. They won't know unless you tell them, a lot of people have luck requesting things from their stores.

Plus its not like most ovo-lacto people really notice or care that they get the vegan version rather than the eggy one.

Veganluv said...

I have been using these Boca Chik patties for a few months now. I LOVE them. To me, they remind me of those old days when I used to get the fish sandwich at McMurders.

So, here is what I do with them:
I make a tarter sauce from Veganaise and sweet pickle relish. I then panfry these patties up until crispy.

I spread tarter sauce on a toasted bun, lay the patty on, then a slice of tofutti cheddar, then some lettuce. I LOVE this combo and I love this product. Your lunch looks amazing and I love your idea with the gravy.

kennyboy said...

Thanks kat. I'm glad to know I'm not alone. ;o)

I just reheat my lunch items in the lunchbox containers anna. They work fine.

And you're right elissa. I think I will take one of the empty boxes of the version I want out there to the store so they can see how they differ from the ones they carry and, hopefully, order them for me.

OMG! veganluv, I have been wondering what it would taste like if I did that. I used to love those "fish sandwiches" too. (Reckon' there was even any fish in them?) I am SOOOOOO doing that for lunch one day. I'll give you credit when I do. I've been wondering if that would work or not, thanks for letting me know that it does!

Anonymous said...

Just some constructive criticism -
The language you use concerning animal products is very negative, and as an omnivore I find it very alienating. Although I agree that people should eat very little meat, I would be more excited about veganism and your blog if it didn't make me feel bad about my decision to eat meat.

NightOwl said...

Ken, of course you're not alone! Lots of us love comfort foods like that. One of my favorite dishes at Denver's Watercourse is the "Southern Fried Seitan", and this lunch looks a lot like it! YUM!!

Tiffaney said...

Another lurker who wanted to let you know that not only does the meal look scrumptious, I also love your thoughtful and articulate language.

To anonymous, you SHOULD feel bad about your decision to eat meat. Deal with it. And while you're dealing, go find a nonvegan blog to frequent instead of posting anonymous (and frankly, RUDE) comments in a blog specifically for vegans and vegan food appreciators.

kennyboy said...

Well, I certainly don't mean to make anyone reading this feel alienated. But I also don't see how I can really say anything positive about eating actual meat though. (I think this came up the first time around with this blog)

I don't mean for it to sound negative, as in people shouldn't like the taste of meat, or there's something wrong with them if they do. I loved it, until I finally stopped and looked at where it was coming from. And I'm sure I would still love the taste of it, IF I could not think about it, but I can't do that anymore. That's why I am so obsessed with finding vegan alternatives. I want the taste and the texture, I want to eat things that I enjoy eating, but I don't want any other living beings to be tortured or killed for it. I'm not vegan for health reasons, although like most people, I constantly struggle with trying to eat healthier. I am in it strictly for the animals.

I've actually thought about whether I should even be using the actual words "chicken" and "steak" and "cheese" in my descriptions, or if I should use some of the vegan words like chik'n or cheeze. But I finally decided to use the actual words so that people who were thinking about veganism, or who were new to veganism, would have an easier time finding my blog and seeing that there are vegan alternatives to these things. So I certainly don't want to alienate those people. Those are the exact people that I hope find this and think "What? I can be vegan and still eat hot dogs, and burgers, and pizza, etc?!?!?!"

Please don't feel alienated. I don't mean for it to sound like I am judging people who eat meat.

I really am not THE ANGRY VEGAN. I used to eat meat. I just try to promote veganism, and that means not eating meat. And I just don't see that there's really anything positive to say about eating meat.

P.S. If it helps to understand where I come from any better, I'm one of the people who was converted to veganism by information such as that found in the "Meet Your Meat" documentary. It really took something like to shake me up and make me realize what I was doing.

I know everybody does things in their own time though. Heck, my best friend eats meat and I (USUALLY) keep my mouth shut. Although I have been known to blurt out "That cow had a mother." as he bites into a cheeseburger.

I'll try to sound less judgemental. I really don't mean to sound that way.

I struggle to be more of the mindset, "If 10 people just ate 10% less meat then that would equal one whole vegan". But sometimes it's hard not to be in the "all or nothing" mindset.

I appreciate constructive criticism. My goal is to promote veganism. I don't think I can do that by making people feel good about eating meat, but I'll try not to make them feel bad either.

NightOwl said...

Ken, you don't sound judgemental at all. Your blog is a vegan blog,so of course you're going to show everyone how easy and great it is to be vegan. Because it is. My addiction has always been cheese. That was the hardest thing for me to give up. And you know what? That's okay! It's fine to not be perfect.
It's really helped so much to get great recipes and books like the Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Jo Stepaniak. And I love Sheese, which comes from Scotland, and is amazing! I've gotten to know these products through blogs like yours and through non-judgemental people, like you. So, you see, you're helping people become and stay vegan with all of your great ideas and recipes, and your positive attitude. Someone can look at your blog and say "Hey, I can do this!", and be a happy vegan. So thank you for that!

Fran said...

Hi. Your lunchbox pics are so pretty! I really like that you often include green foods.

Have you read Simply Heavenly? It's my favorite seitan cookbook, and I call it a "seitan cookbook" because it contains many, many excellent recipes with seitan. And also so many recipes in general--over 1400 and all vegan. But the "un"meat broths alone are great; I use them in meals even without the seitan. I made SH's white lasagna recipe last night (with a few modifications) and I ate almost half the whole lasagna (!); that was one of the best lasagnas I've ever had, and coming from a mostly very traditional Italian family, I've had a lot of lasagna! But the white one was so light without the tomato sauce--oh, and I did leave out the seitan (didn't have time to make it) and just used the broth instead. And speaking of excellent lasagna, if you haven't tried it yet, the raw one in Raw Food/Real World is the other best lasagna I've ever had--I see you have a link to that book.

As far as that anonymous comment and being judgmental, Ken, to me you didn't sound that way at all...but so what if you did? Personally, I AM angry about many people's sadistic dining choices and think they SHOULD feel bad about meat-eating, and I say all this while I'm not a moralist. On this one issue, though, I do and say whatever it takes, no matter how I sound and look. I don't give a damn what people think about me. The other species are more important than whether I'm being socially fair to another human. I've been a vegetarian a long time so have encountered many antivegetarian people and now can usually recognize them in like two seconds; they normally cannot be reasoned with and are on an agenda, both consciously and subconsciously. I always ignore them now--life is nicer that way. Some people are open to "enlightened paths" because they've already started stepping them; they can probably change further. Others will never even set foot on an enlightened path.

Anyway, happy vegan eating and lunchboxing!


raising_kahne said...

You are definately not the only one vegan that likes to eat healthy versions of the nasty stuff we used to eat! Could you really taste the nutritional yeast in the gravy?? I usually just do the gravy like you did awhile back(earth balance, flour, soymilk, salt, TONS of pepper), but would like to try new things. This all looks great, and I bet your workmates are so jealous of your lunches.

Oh, I see you live in Tennessee. I live in Tunnel Hill, GA, so we're probably pretty close. I dont know about where you live, but I havent met any vegans except a couple in the natural foods store.

kennyboy said...


Yeah! for the nasty vegan food club! Hahahaha

It's hard for me to say if I can taste the nooch or not because I like nooch so much now. I used to really notice the "taste of nooch" when I first started using it, and thought it was "different", but now it just tastes good. It just tastes like regular old non-vegan brown gravy to me. I DO think adding about 1/8 tsp. or so of garlic powder and a pinch of sage & thyme really help it out.

If it helps any, I did feed some to an omnivore and they loved it.

Thanks nightowl for the nice comments!
And I'm all ABOUT decent vegan cheese replacements. I too, was a cheese addict.

Ooh, and yes fran I have seen that cookbook. I plan on getting a copy someday, but I really wish they would do another printing. All I've seen are used copies for $60-70 and up. Of course, from everything I've heard about it, it's worth it.

Tina said...

Yum, I said it in my email the other day I wish we (in Australia) had some of the vegan options you have. I will give something similar to this a try. I'm not opposed to pretend meat, look at the buddhists they've been doin' it for a long time!

I had a look at the Earth Balance site and wondered where the palm oil they use comes from, or if it's in the product you use. In Australia there is a push to not use palm oil because its cultivation, in places such as Sumatra and Borneo, is endangering Orang-utan populations (see for more info).

Can't wait for lunch tomorrow (unfortunately your lunch is the middle of the night for me so I have to wait that bit longer...)

Tracy said...

Hey Ken! I just found your site about a week ago and I have been lurking ever since. Your lunches are awesome. I hope you don't mind, but I put a link to it over on my new blog,
Keep up the great lunches!