TOFURKEY – The Humane Thanksgiving Alternative
Growing up in a carnivorous household, it never dawned on me that there was an alternative to the traditional sacrificial turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. This Thanksgiving marks my second attempt at making a Tofurkey. The first was good, but this year it was exceptional!!! After searching my being for the reason that I would even want to make simulated meat at all, the answer came in terms of comfort in the form of childhood memories sitting around the family table, cozy warm fire burning in the next room, often the first snowflakes of an early winter season were forming in the air. The smell of turkey and all the delightful side dishes would bring my taste buds to a euphoric place, igniting and tantalizing the anticipated flavors.
At 16, I was introduced to The Animal’s Voice. These horrid and tortured faces of helpless animals suffering and dying in masses made no sense to me. Being the sensitive and empathetic being that I am, I couldn’t stand to think that something should have to undergo such distress so that I might indulge. The more I read, the more I couldn’t foresee continuing another minute contributing to the torture. I turned next to PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) for guidance on how to become a vegetarian. They have a vegetarian starter kit, which you can order online.
Well, here I am having been a vegetarian now for most of my adult life. With a few slips back to the dark side of eating flesh, I can say that for the last 6 years I have been 98% vegan.
I write now about my second attempt at Tofurkey, which has become a yearly ritual unlocking the comfortable memories of my childhood whilst satisfying my need to be a humane and peaceful being by curtailing the demand and hopefully sparing at least one factory farmed Turkey’s suffering and distress.
5 pounds of firm tofu (it is my experience that Banyon brand is the firmest)
4 TBS fresh chopped sage
2 TBS fresh chopped thyme
4 TBS Better Than Bouillon vegetable bouillon paste or 6 TBS vegetable bouillon granules, or 6 Knorr vegetable bouillon cubes
4 TBS soy sauce
4 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 TBS white vinegar
1 lime squeezed
5 tsp wheat gluten
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
2 TBS canola or other healthy oil (safflower)
The firmest tofu I have come across are Banyan or Sprouts Farmer’s Market brand
Cube the tofu and blend in a food processor. I use a small food processor so I can only do 1/2 lb at a time.
Put the pureed tofu in a large bowel
Next, put the sage, thyme, vegetable bouillon, soy sauce, mustard, turmeric, vinegar, oils, and lime juice in the processor and mix well. Add this along with the wheat gluten and stir this into the tofu, use a hand mixer for best results.
Place another towel or cheesecloth on top and put a heavy ceramic bowel just smaller than the colander on top of that to press out the excess water.
Place this onto a baking sheet in the refrigerator. I start a couple days ahead so that the mixture will have time to drain and dry.
Scoop out or hollow out the middle so you can add stuffing and then place stuffing into the hollowed out part. Flatten out that removed and place over the stuffing.
Invert the Tofurkey onto a baking sheet. If you have extra stuffing simply add it to the sides around the Tofurkey.
Mix up a basting solution as follows:
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/3 c red wine
2 TBS olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS honey
Baste the Tofurkey and bake for 90 minutes at 350 degrees. Baste every 15-20 minutes.