Saturday, 1 January 2011

The Morning After The Night Before

MikeyFox & myself woke up this morning feeling a little on the, um, delicate side (damn you, Talisker, and your dubious yet irresistible charms). Despite really wanting to flop on the sofa all day & drink tea, we hauled our sorry arses out of the house and down to the allotment for some fresh air & exercise.
The sudden bad weather has not been kind to the plot. The Oca has turned to mush (there's not enough fleece in the world to protect it against -18C nights), and the leeks are in a sorry state. But the kale & brussells are all holding their own, and the ground had thawed out enough to dig up some Jerusalem Artichokes (which MikeyFox made into soup - yum!)

I was a bit saddened to have lost all my Oca, though I will be growing it again next year, as they're really tasty. So to cheer myself up, I decided to do some messing around with wheat gluten and some beetroot that I had dug up from the garden and roasted the day before.
Yes, I have been making more Beet-Meat, behold!


They're made using one of those health grills (I say health grill, I mostly use it to make cheese & chutney toasties), the gluten mix is seared on the grill and then baked in the oven, slathered with barbecue sauce, until they're nice & chewy. I really love how the grill gives them a dense texture without being tough & chewy seared ridges, and the barbecue sauce caramelises in the oven and gives them an addictively sticky coating.

1 1/2 cups wheat gluten
1 tsp vegetable stock powder (I used marigold, but any will do)
2-3 beetroot, roasted & peeled (you can use a couple of those cooked vacuum packed beetroot that you find in the salad section of the supermarket, just make sure it's not in vinegar)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 cup water
1 cup barbecue sauce (I used Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, as it's not too sweet, but use whatever you like the taste of)
spray oil (or a little vegetable oil)

Preheat the oven to 200c/400f & grease a cookie sheet or large pan. Plug in the health grill to give it time to warm up.Put the onion, garlic, beetroot, vegetable stock & water in a blender with 3 tbs of the barbecue sauce & blend until smooth. Try not to think about John Carpenter films. Especially not The Thing. Put the wheat gluten into a large bowl & add the alarmingly red blender gloop & mix. Don't spend too long mixing it, or it'll get tough & rubbery. Divide into 4 pieces and flatten each piece into a rectangle about 1cm thick. If you have spray oil, give the grill a light spray. If not, pour a little oil onto your hands and rub each piece of gluten to cover it.
Slap your gluten on the grill (you should be able to fit two pieces in there, but don't worry if there's only room for one) & leave for around 5 minutes, or until the surface is seared and browned (don't try any yet, it'll all be uncooked dough under that crust!).

Lay on the cookie sheet & score with a knife into rib-sized pieces (you don't want to cut all the way through, just perforate it enough that when it comes out of the oven you can tear it into rib strips). With a pastry brush or a spoon, cover the ribs in barbecue sauce. Put in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes are up, flip the ribs over & baste the other side in barbecue sauce, then it's back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Serve with mash & seared sweetcorn, in a bun with lots of coleslaw, or straight off the tray whilst watching a guilty pleasure on TV (hello, new series of Primeval!) and don't be shy about licking your fingers.


becky3086 said...

Amazing! I really thought they were meat!

littleblackfox said...

Heheh, no, they're beetroot, and they're delicious!
We had the leftovers in baguettes with lots of coleslaw - om nom nom!

Anything but Bland said...

thank you!! :) I am following you now, too! have a great day and stay in touch xoxo

love, polly

Ruthdigs said...

Hi! These look really tasty but where can I get Wheat Gluten from? I've asked in the health food shops before and was told you extract it yourself??!
Primeval is a guilty pleasure of mine too! :-)

littleblackfox said...

Hello Ruthdigs!
Extract it yourself? Maybe they mean the slow-and-painful way of making gluten, where you make a flour & water dough & rinse out all the starch.

You can get it from a few health food shops & online from places like The Flour Bin (though they have a flat postage rate which makes it a bit pricey). I buy it in bulk from a place in Sheffield (I use it a lot!). If you send me an email with some contact details, I'd be happy to post you some. Then you can give it a try.

I chuffing love having Primeval back on TV, hehe!

Ruthdigs said...

Oh wow - that's really lovely of you. I'll email now!! Many many thanks. :-D

mangocheeks said...

Wow, littleblackfox.
My mouth drops every time I see what you produce with the vital wheat gluten. I also thought it was meat and pretty convincing too. I do wish I was eatign at your table just to try these beet ribs and yoru other creations.

I need to look out for this Jack Daniels BBQ sauce too.

sorry to read about your oca too. Its a veg i'd like to have a go at growing some day.

littleblackfox said...

Heheh, they're pretty impressive, aren't they? There will always be room at my table for you, dear friend.

I've already bought some more Oca tubers for next year. They can stand some frost, and temperatures down to -5c. We just got unlucky with the weather this year (we had harvested a few plants and they were delicious!). So this year some will be grown at the plot & some at home (and they'll be dug up at the first sign of serious weather!)

Ruthdigs said...

I love the lemony flavour of Oca - yum. They're pretty flowers too - brighten up the plot! Do you get yours from Real Seeds?

littleblackfox said...

Hi Ruth!
yes, I got some Oca from Real Seeds (I was really tempted by the orange Oca in the catalogue this year, but went for the New Zealand red instead). They are really tasty, and the flowers are lovely too! I grew them on my allotment, and hares would hide in them (but didn't eat them, so I didn't mind!)
I'd love to try growing Ulluco, but haven't found it available anywhere.
And there's a parcel on its way to you :)

Ruthdigs said...

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! Parcel has arrived safely - you are a star. I've put a little thank you on my blog as well - hope you don't mind! :-D xxx