November 4th, 2010

Doublebatch Chickpea Cutlets

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Makes 8 cutlets

This recipe is a Veganomicon favorite! Vegan food that will put your lonely steak knives to work? I’m in! As the years pass I make modifications to all my recipes, as you probably do, too. This one is pretty faithful to the original, only I’ve increased the quantity because might as well. Why not have extra cutlets for tucking into sandwiches or chopping up over a Caesar salad?

I’ve paired down the ingredient list a little bit — it doesn’t exactly need the garlic and lemon peel, although I’ve listed them as optional. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to break out the microplane grater (I can get pretty damn lazy.) I’ve also taken a few pictures so that you can see exactly how they should look throughout the prep. And last but not least, because people always ask, I’ve added food processor instructions. Hopefully this makes the recipe even easier and more foolproof then it was, and I think it was already pretty easy.

A couple of other things: Wheat gluten can vary from brand to brand. These come out great with either Arrowhead Mills Brand or Bob’s Red Mill, although I think Bob’s brand makes them a bit firmer. Also, you should only use storebought breadrumbs unless you plan on tweaking the recipe. I’ve tried homemade breadcrumbs and they come out way to mushy.

The texture we’re looking for is firm and a bit crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. I find that for the best texture you should let the cutlets rest after cooking for 10 minutes or so before digging in.

1 16 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup vital wheat gluten
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
Olive oil for pan frying

Optional ingredients:
4 cloves garlic, pressed or grated with a Microplane grater
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no whole chickpeas are left. Use an avocado masher or a strong fork. Alternately, you can pulse the chickpeas in a food processor. We’re not making hummus here, so be careful not to puree them, just get them mashed up. You can also sneak the garlic cloves in here instead of grating them, just pulse them up before adding the chickpeas. If using a food processor, transfer to a mixing bowl when done.

Add the remaining ingredients and knead together for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed. The strings should look like this (click photo for an even closer up view):

Preheat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over low-medium heat. Cast iron works best. If you have two pans and want to cook all the cutlets at once then go for it, otherwise you’ll be making them in two batches.

Divide the cutlet dough into 2 equal pieces. Then divide each of those pieces into 4 separate pieces (so you’ll have 8 all together). To form cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6 by 4 inch rectangular cutlet shape. The easiest way to do this is to form a rectangle shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them. (OK, maybe my surface wasn’t that clean.)

Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They’re ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch. I’ve found that they cook more thoroughly if I cover the pan in between flips. I also use my spatula to press down on them while they’re cooking, that way they cook more evenly.

Now let them rest for a bit and you’re done!

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