Saturday, January 21, 2012

Maha's Fried Holiday Gluten Cutlets

I've made this dish every Thanksgiving and Christmas for the past 6 years or so.  It has several virtues -- in spite of the fact that it needs to marinate overnight, it takes very little actual time to prepare, with just a lot of sitting time between steps, so if you have a big holiday dinner, you can free yourself up for making everything else and also socializing and what will you.

Although I'm a big time panir devotee (which gurukuli isn't?), the other virtue of gluten is that it's both more inexpensive than panir and doesn't require much stirring or anything (also, it's vegan, if that's a concern).  This dish is especially popular among current and former meat-eaters in my family.  These proportions will feed about 4 people as part of a big Western-style holiday dinner with stuffing, gravy, cranberries, potatoes, squash, and all the rest.  Lately I've been having to sextuple (!) the proportions to satisfy my family's cravings for day-after gluten leftovers.

To make the gluten:
1 c. gluten flour
1 c. water

Pour the water into a large mixing bowl. Slowly sprinkle in the gluten flour, using your other hand to mix it with the water as you go. You should end up with a pretty solid lump of gluten; knead it for a minute and then let it sit for one hour. An hour later, boil a big pot of lightly salted water -- a really big pot, like a stock pot. While the water heats, chop your gluten into smallish chunks (2" x 2" or so). A word to the wise: raw gluten can be sticky, so try to keep them separate. When the water is boiling briskly, drop the gluten chunks into the water and boil for 1/2 an hour. The pieces will expand to many times their original size!

After your 1/2 hour, drain the gluten out into a colander, let it cool enough to touch, and squeeze out as much water as possible by hand.

Then whisk together this marinade:
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
6 Tbs of vegan Worcestershire sauce (I like to make my own, sans onions & garlic)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp each dried sage, thyme, and rosemary

In a small pan, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil to rippling hot, and add 1/2 tsp. asafoetida (hing). Remove from the heat as soon as the hing sizzles and add to the marinade.

Place the gluten cutlets in a large Tupperware and pour the marinade over them. Leave them in the fridge overnight (turning occasionally) until you're ready to cook them the next day.

You will want to heat a heavy cast iron skillet over high heat and then coat it with a little more olive oil, combined with a drizzle of the marinade -- fry the cutlets, turning occasionally, until they are crisp and deliciously golden brown.  Lovely with gravy.

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