“I’m a good Irish girl who has meat and two veg for most meals,” says Sarah Jordan, the chef at Johnny’s Grill. Vital wheat gluten, a staple for vegetarians and the main component in seitan—often used as a meat substitute—wasn’t exactly in her wheelhouse. But when Christine Cikowski and Joshua Kulp of Honey Butter Fried Chicken challenged her to create a dish with the protein found in wheat (also called “wheat meat” or just “gluten”), Jordan, who’d never worked with the ingredient before, rose to the occasion.
Jordan and her fellow staff members have spent many hours creating recipes for chorizo, which made seitan chorizo a natural choice for her dish. After procuring vital wheat gluten from the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, she combined it with the same spices used in the chorizo recipe she and her staff created: paprika, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, cumin, salt, and annato (for color). Mixed with water, apple cider vinegar, and oil, it makes seitan chorizo. The vital wheat gluten, Jordan says, is there more for texture than flavor; the seitan “is going to be crumbly, like chorizo would be.”
Jordan cooked the seitan for several minutes over high heat and served it with seared quinoa patties (onion, cooked quinoa, garlic powder, onion powder, beaten eggs), breakfast potatoes, and poached eggs with hollandaise. “I tried to keep it vegetarian, but I couldn’t go vegan because I love butter,” she says.
Surveying the dish, she noted, “It doesn’t look vegetarian.” As for the taste, Jordan says, it’s pretty close to real chorizo. “The flavor is there for sure, and the texture is just slightly different.” With a little more work on the recipe—next time she’d cut back on the apple cider vinegar, she says—it could go on the menu at Johnny’s.
Jordan has challenged Rachel Dow of the Betty to create a dish with amaranth, a pseudocereal that’s sometimes used in gluten-free cooking.
½ cup vital wheat gluten
½ t salt
1 t ground cumin
¼ t cayenne pepper
½ t paprika
2 t chile powder
¼ t onion powder
2 t annato powder
2 T water
2 T apple cider vinegar
Mix dry ingredients together well, add liquid and mix until it forms clumps. Cook with two tablespoons oil in a nonstick pan at medium-high heat until browned, about eight minutes.