Thanksgiving Seitan at Angelica Kitchen

Categories: Featured

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Where's the beef? Not here.

For vegetarians and vegans, holiday mains often disappoint -- and with good reason.

Tofurky, a much-loathed turkey substitute, tastes neither of tofu or turkey, and tends to have the vibe of a rubbery, freezer-burnt salt lick. Soy sausages, another popular go-to for herbivores, can have a plastic mouthfeel and an over-fragrant, mystery-herb aroma. Other meat analogs, like tempeh chicken, usually get drowned in sauce, which does little to mask their mealy, liquid smoke-laden flavor.

Among the flesh substitutes, seitan tastes most like the meat it mimics: Flanks are fibrous and a little chewy, just like you'd expect from a bite of beef, chicken, or pork.

At Angelica Kitchen, which served a $55, five-course fixed-price meal on Thanksgiving, diners had the option of picking seitan as a main course. (The other choice: a tofu and vegetable soufflé topped with a tart cranberry glaze).

Angelica's homemade approach, accented with chanterelle and maitake mushrooms, felt hearty and rich, like a red-wine-based stew -- something Beowulf would consider washing down with a tall glass with mead, after a long day fighting Grendel.

The seitan strips had a steak-like feel, and the onion and turnip accents added an unexpected complexity: This wasn't a fake goulash: It was a vegan lomo saltado of sorts, but one served with pleasantly spiced Yukon Golds and braised Brussels sprouts -- not plain ol' french fries and rice.

My dad -- a true meat-and-potatoes kind of guy who eats only eats "this fucking hippie food" because he loves my vegan mom too much -- actually thought that the dish was tastier than traditional turkey.

His exact words? "Shit! This tastes just like meat!"

He inhaled the rest of his meal -- and then polished off my mom's dinner when she wasn't looking.


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