Friday, March 16, 2012

The Paula Deen Vegan Challenge!: Glazed "Bacon"-Wrapped "Chicken" with Cheesy Asparagus & Rosemary Potatoes

As punishment for not posting a Weekly Vegan entry last week, I presented myself with the ultimate challenge. I had to turn Paula Deen recipes into tasty vegan dishes. The queen of butter and bacon was not gonna make this easy, but I was ready for her. Undeterred, I grabbed my trusty veganizing ray and set about on my mission, not sure if I'd ever return.

Whatever you do, don't look into the beast's eyes!
Glazed Tempeh Bacon Wrapped Gardein
Veganized from Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible
Servings: 4
Time: 2 and a half hours (2 hours inactive)

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp tabasco
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
4 gardein patties, thawed
4 slices tempeh bacon
1/2 cup light brown sugar

So you're supposed to cover two kinds of meat with sugar. Yeah, that sounds about right.
  1. Combine the soy sauce, orange juice, tabasco and garlic in a plastic bag. Add the gardein patties and coat well. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top.
  3. Free the gardein from its marinade grave and wrap with a slice or two of tempeh bacon. Use a toothpick to keep it secured.
  4. Dip the gardein in the brown sugar and coat evenly. Place the chicken on the wire rack and cook for 15 minutes, turning once.
The glazed gardein was somewhat of a mixed-bag. It turned out a little dry since I cooked everything at once at 400 F (so you should probably reduce the time and temp). Evenly coating the gardein patties was also a little tricky, so some bites had nice flavor and some were sadly lacking. These pieces were quickly remedied by the glorious tempeh bacon, which cooked perfectly in the oven. The tempeh was truly the highlight of the meal and went magnificently with the two sides.

Cheesy Asparagus
Veganized from Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible
Servings: 3
Time: 15 minutes

1 lb asparagus, woody ends snapped
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Daiya cheddar cheese

Breaking off the ends of asparagus is oddly therapeutic. 
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Toss the asparagus in the olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet.
  3. Sprinkle on Daiya cheddar and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the faux cheese melts.
The Daiya cheese had some issues with sticking to the asparagus.
Cheese covered asparagus brought me back to the unhealthy introduction to veggies we all have as children. The Daiya cheddar is a great imitation of the real thing (with an interesting and somewhat powdery taste). The only issue I had with this side was that the cheese mostly stayed on the baking sheet, forcing me to scrape it out. The extra work was worth it, though, and would also come in handy with the rosemary potatoes. 

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes
Veganized from Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible
Servings: 4
Time: 40 minutes

3/4 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 1/4 inch chunks
3/4 lb red potatoes, cut into 1 1/4 inch chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 strips tempeh bacon

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F. 
  2. Toss the potatoes and tempeh bacon in the oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  3. Roast, turning occasionally until golden and tender or about 30 minutes.
Cropped so you don't see the burnt potato!
Rosemary potatoes are a killer weapon to have in your culinary arsenal. They can add the perfect starchy finish to any dinner or breakfast (see: A Very Vegan Christmas). Opening up your oven to that roasted rosemary smell just might be one of the most perfect experiences you can have in a kitchen. I noticed Paula Deen's recipe wasn't Deenified enough, so I upped the unnecessary quotient by adding some tempeh bacon to the equation. This proved to be a brilliant idea as the potatoes, tempeh bacon and cheese from the asparagus enabled occasional side quests to the land of the baked potato.

Battered and bruised, I emerged victorious from my assault on Paula Deen's cuisine (rhyming is fun). This was a great break from the wild baking tangent I went on (My first actual meal post in almost a month!) and a welcome addition to The Weekly Vegan. Also, now that I live much closer to a Whole Foods (and may have stocked up on enough vegan supplies for the upcoming apocalypse), I'm ready to continue fighting the good fight in my crusade against the ultimate Southern cook.

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