Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vegan Chicken Marsala Masala with Fresh Morels

I find that many people assume the label "Vegan" should accompany the label "health fanatic". As a Vegan, we don't smoke, we rarely drink, and "recreational drugs" aren't even words catalogued in our mental dictionaries. Well, unless you count Valerian and Cat's Claw. And what's that you say? "Fun?" Never heard the term before in my life. Now if you'll excuse me, I have titillating Saturday evening plans that involve sipping Kombucha and removing the knots from my cats fur with a bio-degradable fine tooth comb.


I know many a Vegan Party Monster, myself included. I must admit, I'm not the best about maintaining my bodies physical health. I fucking HATE going to the doctor. I've self-analyzed. The most compelling argument I have to date is that, as a child, my mother was a hypochondriac for me. The smallest cough, ache or nose dribble was reason enough for a trip to Dr. Hazelbaker's sterile office. They would come at me with needles, I would cry, pharmaceuticals were issued, and a deep need for matriarchal infiltration was satiated.

Being the manipulative child I was (am?), I quickly found a way to take advantage of my mother's overly zealous desire to care-take. In elementary school, I easily spent at least 1/3 of each school year home "sick with a stomachache". This was my secret code for "lay on the couch, eat chocolate chip granola bars and Funyuns while watching re-runs of Mama's Family or Golden Girls". In high school, it became secret code for "hiding out in my best friend's shed smoking blunts and guzzling PBR". I knew the way to my mom's heart was indeed through my stomach, in more ways than one.

Regardless of how many hours of my pre-collegiate education I enjoyed avoiding, I paid my dues in grueling doctors visits. The slightest throat scratch now has me downing Wellness Formula and orange juice faster than I can bong a beer (which is, believe me, quite expedient). The only way I'll usually pay a visit to a doctor now is if I'm rendered senseless by pain or blood loss. Luckily, since I've left home, that only happened once when I developed an ulcer in my eye after leaving my contacts in for 3 months straight. And yes, my mother did warn me about that happening.

I finally sucked it up last week and saw not just one, not just two but FOUR different doctors for check-ups. I am proud to say that my teeth, eyes, organs and lady parts are all in excellent condition. And I have no STDs to boot. If that doesn't speak volumes for the wonders of a vegan diet, I don't know what does.

Vegan Chicken Marsala Masala with Fresh Morels

  • 1 1/2 cups No Chicken Broth (I like Better Than Bouillon brand)
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • Pinch of Tumeric Powder
  • A few threads of Saffron
  • 1 batch Vegan Chicken Breast, thinly sliced (recipe follows)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Unbleached All Purpose Flour, enough for dredging chicken
  • 4 TBSP Vegan Margarine
  • 2 TBSP Shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves fresh Garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 cups Morel Mushrooms, cleaned and halved (or Portobello, sliced, if not available)
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup MimicCreme
  • 2 TBSP Lemon Juice
  • 1 sprig of fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

In a small saucepan, heat chicken broth, garam masala powder, tumeric powder and saffron until just warm and all spices are infused. Remove from heat and set aside.

Sprinkle the "Chicken" Breast slices with salt and pepper, then lightly dredge (coat) each slice of in unbleached flour.

In a large heavy skillet, melt the first 2 TBSP of vegan margarine over medium heat. Brown the "Chicken" Slices in batches on both sides, adding a 1/2 TBSP more vegan margarine in between each batch, then remove from pan and set aside. In the same "Chicken" skillet, add the melt the final TBSP of vegan margarine. Add the shallots, garlic, morels, and olive oil. Saute until the shallots are translucent and morels are softened. Pour Marsala wine and Lemon Juice into the skillet, and cook until Marsala is reduced by half.

Whisk in the No Chicken Broth with spices. Cook, partially covered, over medium-low heat until slightly reduced, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in MimicCreme and fresh parsley, and combine well, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Taste for salt and pepper.

Arrange a few slices of "Chicken" on each plate, and pour sauce and morels over top and serve.

This dish tastes great served over mashed potatoes, rice or pasta.

Vegan "Chicken" Style Seitan

“Chicken” Seitan Dough:
  • 1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten
  • 1 cup Water mixed with 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Chicken Broth Paste
  • 1 1/2 TBSP MimicCreme

“Chicken” Seitan Broth:
  • 8 cups Water mixed with 9 tsp Better Than Bouillon® No Chicken Broth Paste
  • 1 cup MimicCreme
  • 7 Whole White Button Mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Shallot Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Roasted Garlic Powder
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • Pinch of Celery Seeds

First, take all of the Seitan Broth ingredients, and mix them together in a very large pot. Bring to a boil.

While the broth’s starting to heat up, make your Seitan Dough by mixing and kneading the vital wheat gluten, water/bouillon blend, and MimicCreme until it’s completely mixed. It will be a little more wet than most seitan doughs. Squeeze out the excess liquid, and form the mixture into a ball. On a cutting board, flatten the ball out, and use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to cut into six pie wedge “Chicken Breast” shaped pieces. Before putting in boiling broth, flatten each part down by pressing it firmly between your hands, then drop each part into the pot.

Cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer, and let the seitan cook for about an hour, stirring every 10-15 minutes.

Don’t throw out the broth! Use a slotted spoon to remove each “Chicken Breast,” and place into a colander to drain. Let both the “Chicken Breasts” and the broth cool. Allow the “Chicken Breasts” to marinate in the broth until ready to use, if time allows you. Drain again before using.


Jes said...

You and your morels.

Ha! That was totally an accidental pun. Morels/morals...anyway.

The recipe looks rad & I'm definitely one of the first to admit that I'm not a health nut vegan. I'm a writer, for pete's sake, we have our reputation for a reason :)

quarrygirl said...

congrats to you for getting the courage to visit all the doctors in ONE WEEK. i avoid doctors like the plague, and i know i wouldn't be so brave.

as far as unhealthy vegans, i eat pizza 5 nights a week and drink 6 beers a day. what what. bring it on!

and BTW, that seitan looks amazing. your morels recipes are KILLING me. nick just mastered a simple seitan recipe...and next weekend, i am definitely puting him to work on this!
let's chill soon.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Hooray for health despite party times!

Marija said...

Lovely lovely morels :)

I've only had them in dried form. Where do you buy fresh morels? My Whole Foods doesn't have them..

britt said...

i totally know some hazelbakers from ohio. weiiiird!

iRaw said...

Oh, this looks delicious! I've never had morels but keep seeing so many recipes that use them.

Jenn Shagrin said...

Marija: Thank you! Morels are only in season for a very short amount of time (spring-ish), and it's pretty much the end of it now. I was lucky enough to have a man that works in produce at my local Whole Foods order me a batch. Give yours a call...they may be able to hook you up.

Jim Nichols said...

I missed the morels this year, but I now know I have a source for them, my niece told me they picked many in the woods by their house. NOW they tell me! No MORE spending $20 for 1/2 a pint!

My wife & I consider ourselves "Junk Food Vegetarians". We do try to eat healthy for the most part, we rarely east fast food but we do eat many processed foods. People seem to get confused when we try to explain were are not vegetarians for health.

Marija said...

Thanks for the tip, JennSahggy! I'll be on the lookout for next year.

Jenn Shagrin said...

Wow. I wish the concrete jungle of L.A. would hide such treasures! Vegetarian or Vegan definitely doesn't have to mean "bland". I'm glad you know what I'm talking about :)

You're welcome! Definitely keep your eyes open. They are so worth any price tag placed on them.

emma said...

i LOVE morels, this looks so so so good, i am for sure saving this recipe and trying it for myself. thank you!

TRSpook said...

Hey Jenn, my "cutlets were ok, but what can I do to make them less gluteny tasting