my first attempt at tofurkey.
For the past 15 years (yes, just over half of my life) I have been a vegetarian. My middle and high school years were spent eating mac and cheese, cheese ravioli, spaghetti and generally anything that involved cheese (processed cheese squares is what my mom bought). My family thought this was just a phase that I was going through and didn’t encourage me to try new things, like vegetables or tofu.
At 19 I moved out with my boyfriend at the time who was much more encouraging. This is when I discovered tofu and how I can manipulate the sauces surrounding the soy bean curd to make the sponge-like substance actually taste good.
Fast forward 8 years, numerous advancements in vegetarian foods, a new found experiential streak and you get me… a budding home chef, looking to expand my palette with more and more new vegetarian items.
I think back to my past eating habits and laugh at how unwilling I was to experiment.
This brings me to Thanksgiving…. Most years are spent gorging myself on all of the side items, over-stuffing myself with foods that are meant to be the opening bands for the star – the turkey. This year, I decided that I would finally test out the infamous tofurkey. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to try it, maybe because it seems to be more of a running joke with meat eaters who say eeek to tofurkey, maybe it is because I do not hear good things about the texture of this product, even from fellow veggies.
I purchase the product the day before Thanksgiving at Big John’s, Healdsburg’s local gourmet grocery store and I get an odd look from the cashier. I tell her it is the first year I am making one of these and she laughs and simply says “gross.” I wanted to ask if she was just saying gross to the thought of the tofurkey, or if she had actually tried it, but I decided against it.
Fellow vegetarian and food blogging friend, John from Anything Wine wrote about how it is the basting options that makes or breaks the tofurkey. The official Tofurkey website gives three options, the first being a savory baste and the second two are bastes with fruit.
I went with a combination of organic apple juice, soy sauce, olive oil, saffron, oregano, cayenne pepper and a bit of honey. I am trying new things here, so why not throw in a bit of each of my favorite spices. I also added potatoes, onions and mushrooms around this mysterious loaf.
In order to make sure the “roast” was done, I took a small chunk from the outside and tried it…. Okay, the texture is a bit rubbery and the taste was something similar to what I imagination turkey tastes like, but I was not all that impressed. I cut it open and added the baste and veggies to the top and took another bite. The second attempt was much better. The bite consisted of a mushroom, some of the stuffing and a bit of the tofurkey. I must say that the seasoning of it was perfect.
Altogether my opinion of tofurkey is still not very high because of the texture issue. It is too rubbery to eat on its own. Oh well, at least I tried something new….