Living Off The Grid: Meatless Meat

When you are living off of the grid and you only use a root cellar to store your food it can become difficult trying to keep fresh meat around the kitchen. My journey off the grid taught me a lot and meat-free meat was one of the things I chose to learn about. There are many reasons people choose to eat a diet that contains little-to-no meat: health, ethics for animals, and environmental issues.  All of these are awesome reasons to give meatless meat a try, whether you are going for completely meat-free meals or even just partly meat-free.

One of the biggest challenges to a meat-free diet is the psychological adjustment that you must make. There are many foods that provide the same nutritional values as meat but your mind, body, belly, and mouth are all used to the smells, texture, and taste of meat, so the craving is rooted in something much deeper than the nutritional value of meat. One of the things I learned about making meat-free meals is that it is all about the flavors, so it’s good to use seasonings, spices, and condiments that you would normally use in a meat dish. Things like liquid smoke, BBQ sauce, and smoked paprika are a big help when it comes to the taste and flavor, but what about the texture? Tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, eggplant, jack fruit, beans, and nuts are all great things to use to get the meaty texture your jaws crave.

If meatless meat is new to you, there is a ton of information online that can help you in your quest to eat less meat.  The Gentle Chef and Ela Gale’s YouTube channel were two resources I found particularly helpful, and they've inspired the recipes I share with you below.

Vegan Bacon

The struggle was real when it came to finding something to replace my crispy bacon with, but I found it. Would you believe that mushrooms sliced thin and mixed with the right seasonings can actually resemble and pass the taste test of bacon? Try it for yourself.

You can use any mushrooms you like but the bigger in size the better it is. Some of my favorites are shiitake, king oyster, and Portobello. Here’s what you’ll need.

3 medium-sized mushrooms, peeled & sliced about ¼-inch thick

3 Tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 dash of liquid smoke

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

Peel the skin off of the cap of the mushroom and slice them about ¼ to ½-inch thick.

In a small bowl mix all of the seasonings, sauces, and spices together well.

Preheat your oven, whether it is a wood cook stove or a conventional oven, to 325–330 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Take your mushroom slices and dip them in the sauce you mixed together and place them on the tray. Bake for about 2 minutes and then switch from bake to broil for an additional 8-10 minutes or until they’re crispy enough for your preference. The thicker the mushrooms, the longer they need to cook.

Chopped Beef or Ground Beef

This recipe is somewhat quick and easy to make and it is delicious to boot.

1 small-medium package of tofu

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

4 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon black pepper

Open the tofu and gently squeeze out all of the excess liquid (or press it for 15 minutes or so) and crumble into little pieces about the size of ground beef.

In a small bowl mix all of your seasonings, spices, and sauces together.

Add the tofu crumbles and mix thoroughly with a fork.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the tofu blend evenly onto the baking pan and bake for 20 minutes, then mix it up well and leave in the oven for another 15-20 minutes.

You can use the crumbles in any dish that calls for ground beef. They make a great taco filling. If you don’t plan on using the crumbles right away, just store in a freezer-safe container until you need them.

Sausages

I was amazed at how much these meat-free sausages looked, smelled, and tasted like a meaty sausage – they even have the texture of a sausage.

2 cups gluten flour (vital wheat gluten)

½ onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

½ teaspoon rosemary

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1 teaspoon pepper

Mix all of the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside for a moment. Then in a separate bowl mix the ingredients listed below.

1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes

1 cup vegetable stock

2 teaspoons soy sauce

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

¼ cup olive oil

Once you’ve got your wet and dry mixes ready you can start slowly adding the wet mix into the dry.

Now it’s time to make the broth…for this you will need a large pan and the following ingredients:

4 cups vegetable stock

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

With your broth set up and ready to go turn out your dough and knead it. Once it is ready you will take and shape sausages of the desired length and thickness. Cut a cheesecloth into squares big enough to wrap the meatless sausage in and tie the ends with string. Bring the broth to a simmer and add your sausages. Allow the sausages to simmer for about 40 minutes and make sure they all stay fully submerged for even cooking. Now you can refrigerate or freeze the sausage links and use them when you please. I like to pan fry mine with some onions and green peppers.

There are many more recipes similar to these, but  these are the ones I have tried out for myself and I have to say I am more than pleased! I hope you enjoyed the recipes -- let us know if you try them and what you think!  

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