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Mardi Gras, Emeril Goes Vegan

(post, Trista Cornelius)

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I am taking a food writing class, and one of our assignments included making a pork chop recipe of Emeril Lagasse's.  Meat and dairy are not options for me, so I took on the challenge of "veganizing" the recipe.  

To my delight and surprise, it not only worked, it tasted fabulous!  So, here it is, my recipe for a vegan Fat Tuesday.   

Bourbon Street Fire and Brimstone:  
Scalding Seitan “Chops,” Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and Caramelized Apples.

Go ahead, whoop it up for Mardi Gras.  Indulge in your vices and savory delights.  Something’s got to sustain you through Lent’s forty days of reflection and restraint, right?  However, no need to take “Fat Tuesday” literally.  This recipe strips much of the fat from Emeril 
Lagasse’s original recipe, and since “carnival” originally meant to abstain from meat (carne=meat and levare=to remove), seitan replaces pork chops.  

Please angels and devils alike with this dish that punishes your tongue with a little heat on the spicy seitan "chops," then soothes with the heavenly salve of silky sweet potatoes.  It's a perfect feast for Mardi Gras.    

For Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2-inch chunks
3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
¼ cup Silk Creamer
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Seitan Chops:
1 8-ounce package seitan 
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Creole Seasoning

Creole Seasoning:  
1½ teaspoon paprika
1½ teaspoon garlic powder
1½ teaspoon onion granules
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper for devilishly hot, ½ for angelic
1½ teaspoon dried oregano
1½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper

For Caramelized Apples:
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼-inch thick
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
1½ Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 Tablespoon agave syrup
1 Tablespoon bourbon (a little generous since it’s Mardi Gras)

Wash, peel, and chop sweet potatoes and apples and set aside.  Slice the seitan into ¼-inch thick slices.  Cover and set aside.  Combine Creole Seasoning spices in a shallow bowl and set aside.  

Place sweet potatoes in 8 cups boiling water with a dash of salt and boil for 15 minutes or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.  

Meanwhile, heat a pan to medium-high with 2 Tablespoons butter.  Add apples to melted butter and sauté until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice, agave syrup, and bourbon.  Cook until apples turn brown and are caramelized, about 15-20 minutes.  Cover and keep on low.  

Once the potatoes are tender, drain and return to the pot, adding 3 Tablespoons butter, soy creamer, and vanilla.  (Let 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high begin to heat for the seitan as you finish the potatoes.)  Mash potatoes into smooth silkiness.  Cover and keep on low to stay warm as you finish up the seitan.  

Dredge each slice of seitan through the Creole Seasoning, texturing both sides, and place in the skillet to brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  

To finish:  Place potatoes on each plate, layer seitan chops, and top with caramelized apples.  The creamy sweetness of the potatoes and tangy caramel of the apples balance the peppery spice of the chops, igniting all of you taste buds at once.     

Serves a modest feast for two.  Add a side of greens and a decadent dessert for true Fat Tuesday indulgence.