Chickpea Cutlets with Mushroom and White Wine Sauce

Tonight I wanted something with a lot of protein; something very "Sunday Night Dinner." I decided to try the Chickpea Cutlet recipe out of Veganomicon (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero), along with my Mushroom and White Wine Sauce. For some reason, I have been somewhat intimidated by this recipe. Maybe it's because I had never used vital wheat gluten before...just reading about the "strings of gluten forming" made me think that there was a possibility of screwing this recipe up. Maybe it's because it was featured in a Chow article that said it had medium difficulty (ooh, it's not easy...heaven forbid I challenge myself).

To be honest, these came together rather quickly. The most difficult part of preparing these was judging when they were cooked. I have never worked with vital wheat gluten before, as I said, so it took me a while to judge what "cooked" was.
I ended up taking one off the heat and cutting into it to see if it was still squishy. I found the best way to tell if these are done is when they are really, really browned. The only thing is that they could have used a little more moisture than the amount of water it called for. As I was forming them, they were kind of falling apart at the edges. I may add a tbsp or so more water, to solve that problem. Overall, they had a great texture and a nice amount of herbs. I think next time I might omit the lemon zest and add oregano and basil instead, then after searing them combine them with sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms and then simmering the cutlets and the veggies in marinara sauce for a chickpea cutlet cacciatore! (perhaps more on that later...). My sauce went with it really well because it was tangy, which paired with the lemon and the thyme in the cutlets. It made the whole thing taste like a grown-up Salisbury steak, veganized, of course.

Chickpea Cutlets

1 cup cooked chickpeas (I used organic canned chickpeas)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage
Olive oil for pan frying (I used non-stick cooking spray)

1. In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no chickpeas are left. Add the remaining ingredients and knead together for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed.
2. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, divide the cutlet dough into 4 equal pieces. To form cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6 by 4 inch rectangular cutlet shape. The easiest way to do this is to form a rectangle shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.
3. Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan (or a thorough layer of cooking spray). Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more
oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They’re ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch. *Alternatively, use the baking instructions.

*Baking instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes till firm and golden-brown.

Servings: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 242
Fat: 8.75 g
Saturated fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 559.5 mg
Carbohydrates: 24.2 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Sugar: 2.8 g
Protein: 17.2 g

Mushroom and White Wine Sauce

cooking spray
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 12 medium)
2 clove garlic, grated
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage

1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the mushrooms and saute.
2. Once the mushrooms have started to release moisture, add the garlic and season with a little salt a pepper (remember to use only a little salt, because this is a reduction, so the salt will be more intense in the final product) and keep sauteeing until the mushrooms are completely softened.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir vigorously to coat them. Allow the flour to turn light brown.
4. Slowly pour in the wine, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture starts to thicken, add the broth, thyme, and sage.
5. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. The thickness of the sauce is dependent on you...allow it to boil and reduce for a while for a thick sauce, or keep it on the thin side and take it off the heat once it comes to a boil. Remember, since this is a flour-thickened sauce, it will become thicker upon standing off the heat.

Servings: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 83
Fat: 0.5 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 196 mg
Carbohydrates: 6.5 g
Fiber: .5 g
Sugar: 1.2 g
Protein: 2.8 g

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