Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mushroom Meat




I used to rely on heavy-handed meat substitutes to give my meals that old, familiar texture and flavor that we all grew up on as the center of our 1980's meat-and-three dinners. As I shy away from more and more processed foods, I began looking for a way to get that same familiar result from my own kitchen. The solution for me was to take two things I already love, mushrooms and eggplant, and turn them into a multi-purpose "meat." It's so simple and requires little hands-on time. Make this in large batches, freeze what you don't use, and defrost it to add to tacos or burritos, fill ravioli, or cobble together a homemade veggie burger.

Mushroom Meat
Yields about 4 cups

3 cups finely chopped eggplant (about one medium, peeled)
3 cups finely chopped portobello mushroom (about three medium)
2 cups finely chopped white onion (about one)
bouillon cubes (like Not Beef brand)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. This is so simple if you use your food processor to do the chopping. Add roughly-chopped mushrooms, stems and all, to your food processor and pulse three or four times until finely chopped. You do not want to find the vegetables into a paste. The pieces should be about the size of a black-eyed pea. Dump processed mushrooms onto a large, parchment-lined, rimmed sheet pan (12x17). Pulse the roughly-chopped eggplant in the food processor in the same manner and dump it onto the sheet pan with the mushrooms. Repeat this process with the onion. 

Crumble the bouillon cubes on to the pile of processed vegetables. Drizzle the mound of mushrooms, eggplant and onion with the olive oil and vinegar. Using your hands, toss it all together. Spread the mixture evenly over the sheet pan. Sprinkle the mixture with garlic powder and pepper. Pop it into the oven for a total of 20 minutes. Remove and allow it to cool in the pan. Some eggplant will contain more water than others. If there is excess moisture in the bottom of the pan drain it off using a colander. Reserve the liquid to add to soups or stews. It's very flavorful.

For an Italian variation, add fresh herbs from the garden. To make a Mexican version, I add cumin to the mix along with a palmful of ancho chili powder and chipotle pepper. The possibilities are endless. Sub this for any recipe that calls for ground beef.


* cut olive oil in half 2/20

17 comments:

  1. I made this last night for dinner, for a kind of curried meatloaf thing I usually do with Boca crumbles. It was delicious. Recipe notes! Very easy. I have a food processor and just chucked everything in. It smelled amazing as it was cooking. I had to cook it a lot longer than 20min,though, there was a lot of liquid, and I wasn't sure exactly how moist it should turn out. I ended up cooking it an hour, which was pretty much until there was no more liquid on the baking sheet, although the "meat" itself was still very wet and paste-y. I think I would cook it longer next time, and add less liquid, personally. The finished meal was delicious, though, I'll definitely make this again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for helping out. I had another tester tell me the same thing. I need to figure that out. Hmmm. I'll make this again and see if I can sort it out.

    You are a great tester. I'd love it if you wanted to try something else :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks :) I have my eye on several of the recipes here, I'll be sure to take notes on everything that I make.

    ReplyDelete
  4. GREAT! Do you mind "claiming" the ones you plan on making by leaving a comment on each post. That way we can keep track of who is planning on cooking what. :) One Month and two days until the manuscript is due.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I too followed the recipe per instructions and it was very wet. I cooked meat for 25 min, and drained excess.
    I then made the meatballs and they were moist and yummy.

    ReplyDelete
  6. That is good to know. So, rather than change the recipe, I'm going to change the instruction to include draining off any excess liquid. The result seems to be good for everyone, so I think that's an acceptable solution. Do you?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It works for us. We reuse our leftover drainage in soups or daily cooking and it gives another meal an extra kick without all the work!

      Delete
  7. I'm going to make the mushroom meatballs, so I'll try the altered version of this.

    I tagged a bunch of recipes. There are lots more I'd like to try, but I'm not sure I could do them all in the next month! I kept my commitments to a level I can definitely manage :)

    This is terribly exciting to me. I am working on a cookbook(who knows if it'll ever get published, but I can hope!) and I'm finding it very exciting to recipe test for someone else :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Has anyone tried sraining through cheesecloth?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Remade this, the draining step worked great!

    I used a cheesecloth lined colander, and let it sit a few minutes before moving on to the meatball recipe.

    This one's a winner!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just stumbled upon your site when looking for a vegetarian meatball recipe. I'm very intrigued by this recipe and will be trying it for sure as I like to avoid processed when possible, too. Quick question - the 2 bullion cubes.. are they the 1 cup size or the 2 cup? The veggie bullion I buy at our natural food store makes 2 cups per cube so I just want to make sure I'm using the correct amount. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Have you tried salting the eggplant and letting it sit for an hour before chopping it up? I have seen this technique in other recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I decided to food process the mushrooms and eggplants and then throw the chopped mix into my food dehydrator for about 3 hours (so it wasn't completely dehydrated, but it dried it just enough). That pulled a LOT of moisture out - and there was no moisture in the pan when I baked it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought of the same thing the other day, but haven't tried it yet. I just got a dehydrator and have been looking for some great uses for it. I'll bet the dehydrated mix was more flavorful too! Good work!

      Delete
  13. Is it necessary to peel the eggplant? I was under the impression most of the nutrients are in the skin of the eggplant.

    ReplyDelete
  14. do you freeze the extra before or after bake it on the sheet??
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete