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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unbacon for One

Admittedly, I don’t have a lot of experience with bacon from a pig. But I like the idea of a crunchy, crispy fried something-or-other to sprinkle on my salad, slice into my sandwich, or serve as a side with breakfast. This is an adaptation of someone else’s recipe that made twice as much (and had nightshades in it)—my recipe will make about a dozen strips, maybe more if you slice it really thin.

For the Brown Dough:
½ cup vital wheat gluten
1 TBLSP nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon onion powder
¼ cup water
1 TBLSP maple syrup (or brown sugar)
1 TBLSP tamari or soy sauce
1 TBLSP liquid smoke
½ TBLSP miso paste (yellow or red)
½ TBLSP vegan Worcestershire Sauce (from the recipe below or store bought)
½ TBLSP olive oil
For the White Dough:
2 ½ TBLSP vital wheat gluten
½ TBLSP garbanzo bean flour
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 ½ TBLSP water
Pinch fine sea salt or kosher salt
½ TBLSP olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper or brown sugar for the outside (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay out a foot-square piece of aluminum foil somewhere out of the way.
Make the Brown Dough:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the gluten, yeast, and onion powder.
  2. In another small bowl, mix together the water, syrup (or sugar), tamari (or soy sauce), liquid smoke, miso, Worcestershire Sauce, and olive oil. Make sure that the miso and the sugar (if you used it) are completely dissolved.
  3. Combine the gluten mixture with the water and syrup mixture until it’s well mixed. It will be a smooth and very soft dough.
  4. Divide the dough into three or more pieces.

Make the White Dough:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the gluten, flour, and garlic powder.
  2. Add the water, salt, and olive oil, stirring it into a loose and smooth dough.
  3. Divide the dough into two or more pieces.

Assemble the Unbacon:
  1. On the aluminum foil you’d prepared earlier, flatten one of the pieces of Brown Dough into roughly a square or rectangle shape, about 1/4–inch thick. Don’t worry about it being even.
  2. Spread one of the pieces of White Dough on top of the brown rectangle. It doesn’t have to completely cover it, as this is what makes it look like natural marbling.
  3. Repeat, altering the layering until all of the pieces are used and piled up on top of each other. You can hang some dough over an edge and roll it around the other dough too. There’s really no reason at all to be tidy here.
  4. Once all the layers are on, shape the dough into a slab about 1-inch thick. I started with a rectangle that was about 5 inches by 4 inches and then folded the short ends together to make a nice stack because the White Dough didn’t always reach the edge of the Brown Dough. My slab was about 2 ½ inches by 3 inches and 1-inch tall in the end.
  5. If you like, rub the outside of the slab with freshly ground black pepper, maple syrup, or brown sugar. You could also cut the slab in half lengthwise and rub each half with a different coating.
  6. Wrap the slab of Unbacon in the foil, like a present. Be sure to seal the edges well so it steams itself and doesn’t get dried out. Place the wrapped package in the oven on the middle rack.
  7. Bake for 90 minutes.
  8. Let the Unbacon cool in the foil until it’s cool enough to handle.

To Serve:
  1. Slice the Unbacon thinly if you want it crispy and thick if you want it chewy.
  2. Fry slices of Unbacon in a shallow pan with a TLBSP of olive or canola oil. It should be lightly browned and crisp around the edges. Don’t overcook!
  3. Blot off any excess oil in a paper towel before serving warm.  

You’ll want it crumbled into salads, laid across sandwiches and burgers, and it makes an excellent side for a Nomlette or faux fried eggs (coming shortly).
Worcestershire Sauce
This great little sauce is a welcome component in many dishes. Mine is not only vegan but also nightshade-free. Yay!

1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup tamari (or soy sauce)
2 TBLSP brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground yellow mustard seed or dry mustard
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  1. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and let cool completely before using.

Store in an airtight container for up to three months. It may need a little shaking up every now and then.

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