Vegan meat cutlets are the perfect meat replacement for health and environment conscious eaters. Our homemade vegan meat is easy to make, tender, but with a good meaty bite to it. It has no bad fats, or cholesterol, and it can be cooked in your favourite way, just like regular meat cutlets.
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🥬 Ingredients & substitutions
Vegetable broth + Bay Leaves: we use broth to cook the vegan meat cutlets. You can either use vegetable bouillon, or you can make your own broth with fresh ingredients. For this recipe we suggest using a good quality organic vegetable bouillon and a some bay leaves in it.
Vital wheat gluten: this is simply a type of flour made from the extraction of natural protein found in wheat. Compared to regular flour, vital wheat gluten only contains the gluten protein of the wheat, and when combined with liquid gives us a meat-like texture.
Firm tofu: we add firm tofu to improve the nutritional profile of the cutlets and also the texture. In fake meat preparations, tofu can be substituted with any legume flour, such as chickpea flour, lentils flour, etc. If you decide to replace tofu with a legume flour, you will need to add extra water equal to the amount of the extra flour.
Flavourings & fats: we use onion, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce and olive oil to flavour this meat. You can experiment with pretty much any spices you like (paprika, cumin, curry, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, etc.). We like to keep the flavour of this meat quite neutral so that it can easily be cooked with pretty much any sauce and technique.
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How to make vegan meat cutlets
- Rolling pin
- 4 liters (1.1 gal) water
- 4 bay leaves
- 1½ tbsp vegetable bouillon
- 240 g (1 cups) water
- 100 g (3.5 oz) firm tofu
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ⅔ clove garlic
- ¼ onion
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 225 g (1½ cups) vital wheat gluten
- In a large pot, add water, bay leaves, and vegetable bouillon. Bring to a boil, then let simmer throughout this recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F. Line a baking rack with parchment paper and set it aside.
Make the meat
- In a food processor, add all wet ingredients and blend until liquid.
- Pour the liquid into a large bowl, add the vital wheat gluten and with the help of a sturdy spatula mix until you have a dough ball.
- Transfer the dough on a work surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add some wheat gluten. By the end, you should get an elastic dough that is hard to tear apart.
- Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten each piece of dough on the work surface with the help of a rolling pin. Dust with some flour if the dough is too sticky. Reach a thickness of about 0.5 cm / 0.2 inches.TIP: wheat gluten dough is very elastic and hard to flatten. To make the process easier, flatten the pieces of dough a first time, then wait 5 minutes, then flatten them a second time. You'll get thinner and larger cutlets this way.
- Put the cutlets onto the baking rack with parchment paper, then bake for 20 minutes at 180°C / 356°F.
- Take the cutlets out of the oven. Bring the broth to a boil and gently lower the cutlets in. Let the cutlets simmer in the broth for 20 minutes.TIP: if the cutlets float on the surface of the broth, occasionally turn them and push them down again to ensure even cooking.
- Turn the heat off and let the cutlets cool down in the broth for about 1 hour. Transfer the cutlets in a large container (or several small containers), cover in broth, and let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 8 hours and up to 6 days.
- Now you can cook the cutlets as you prefer. We recommend following our Italian Lemon Scaloppini, Italian Mushroom Scaloppini and Milan-Style Schnitzel recipes.
👨🏻🍳 Top tips
Add flavour to the wet ingredients
The best and simplest way to infuse flavour to your vegan meat cutlets is to add all the spices and flavourings to the blender with the wet ingredients and blend together until you get a strongly flavoured liquid. When added to the vital wheat gluten, this liquid will not only hydrate the gluten but it will also add lots of flavour to it.
Learn the basics, then experiment
Before changing up ingredients and experimenting with your own flavours, we strongly recommend to follow our recipe to the letter to make sure you get to the final result without complications. Working with vital wheat gluten requires some practice and experience, especially when it comes to the ratios between wet and dry ingredients. So here our advice is to follow our recipe to the letter, so that you get familiar with texture and consistencies. Then, when you mastered it, feel free to experiment and add you favourite spices and ingredients to the mix.
Add a legume to the mix
When making fake meats we not only think about flavour and texture, but also nutritional profile. To improve the nutritional profile of our cutlets, we add legumes in the form of tofu. Tofu is made out of soybeans. Soybeans are a legume. Legumes contain lysine, an essential amino acid (protein) that is not available in wheat and other grains. So, by adding tofu, we create a vegan cutlet that is not only delicious, but also full all the beneficial proteins that we need to be healthy and strong.
Let rest overnight
To get the best texture for this vegan meat cutlets, you need to have the patience to let them rest in the broth overnight. The cool part is that these cutlets can be stored in the refrigerator in their own broth for up to a full week. Their texture will only get better with time. So our advice is to prepare them on a weekend, so that you can enjoy them trough-out the week.
📖 Questions & answers
No. Wheat gluten has been around from millennia. In fact, fake meats made with wheat gluten have been prepared this way in Asia for thousands of years, and served to Buddhist monks that already back then refused to eat animal flesh. More recently, wheat gluten has become a staple in macrobiotic and vegan cuisines as a healthy replacement for meat. If, however, you are allergic to gluten, then you should not eat wheat gluten.
There is no difference between vital wheat gluten and wheat gluten. They refer to the same thing. A flour-like powder, made from the extraction of the wheat protein gluten from flour and the exclusion of starch.
You can find wheat gluten either in the health foods section or in the baking section of your supermarket. Thanks to the increasing interest of people in eating healthier foods, moving away from meat products, many grocery stores are adding wheat gluten to their inventory. However, if your local grocery store doesn't sell wheat gluten, you can always get some good one online on amazon or through some online food stores.
This blog post on how to make vegan meat cutlets only shows a simple procedure on how to make the base for fake meat. If you want to do a full dish out of this fake cutlets then we have prepared 3 delicious Italian recipes for you:
1. Vegan Lemon Scaloppini: delicious fake meat cutlets gently cooked the Italian way with some herbs and lemon juice. Simple and mouthwatering!
2. Mushroom Scaloppini: delicious vegan cutlets cooked in a creamy mushroom sauce. A staple of Italian secondi piatti that will impress any non-vegan meat eaters.
3. Cotoletta alla Milanese (similar to a Wiener Schnitzel): a crunchy breaded and deep fried cutlet, super delicious and indulgent! Perfect for a Friday night!
Store the vegan meat cutlets in a container in their own cooking broth and in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
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If you have any tips or questions let us know in the comments below!