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As more and more people are trying to eat less meat these days, plant-based meat substitutes are becoming more and more popular. This vegan chicken is the perfect substitute for traditional chicken: it has the same consistency, is very easy to prepare and it's extremely versatile (you can combine it with any sauce). I've prepared it many times for meat eaters and everyone has absolutely loved it. So no doubt, this recipe for vegan chicken will be a hit!
By the way, to make it you only need 5 ingredients (4 if you don't count the water) and 15 minutes of active work.
Before you jump into the kitchen, I recommend you read this blog post carefully. The recipe is simple, but there are a few steps you need to follow.
For this vegan chicken, all you need are the following ingredients: Water, olive oil (or another oil of your choice), canned white beans, vital wheat gluten and salt.
What's vital wheat gluten?
In a time when many people are choosing to avoid gluten, it might feel strange to see vital wheat gluten listed in the ingredients of a recipe. But what exactly is wheat gluten?
Wheat gluten is a powder that contains almost only gluten and very little starch. It's made by hydrating wheat flour, which activates the gluten protein, and then processing it to remove everything but the gluten. It is then dried and ground back into a powder.
This powdered substance is high in protein and great for making vegan meat substitutes.
Is vital wheat gluten unhealthy?
Gluten is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, barley and rye. It acts like a binder, holding foods together and giving them a "stretchy" quality - imagine trying to roll out a pizza on a baking tray. Without gluten, the dough would tear and be "unstretchable."
The negative media coverage of wheat and gluten has caused some people to doubt its place in a healthy diet. There is little published research to support these claims.
Unless a person has been diagnosed with celiac disease, wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity, there is currently no evidence that eating wheat gluten affects health. On the contrary, there are many studies that prove its positive effect.
If you want to learn more, here is a link to an article ("Ditch the gluten, improve your health?") from Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School, which discusses the topic of gluten in more detail.
Why do we use wheat gluten to make vegan chicken?
Now that we know what gluten is (and that it's healthy, unlike what many people think), I'd like to explain why we use it to make vegan chicken.
First, wheat gluten allows us to prepare vegan chicken with the same consistency of traditional chicken. Also, gluten is rich in protein, which allows us to create a protein-rich substitute, which is important for many because protein inhibits appetite and enhances satiety.
Where can I buy vital wheat gluten?
I recommend you buy it online in 1 kg packages. The vegan chicken is so delicious you'll use it all up, trust me. Plus, vital wheat gluten can be stored for years, so you'll have plenty of time to make this recipe for vegan chicken.
How to replace white beans
The second main ingredient for our vegan chicken is canned white beans. We use them to make the vegan chicken more tender. If we left out the beans, the chicken would be too tough and rubbery.
If for some reason you want to substitute white beans, I recommend using chickpeas or kidney beans. Both are excellent alternatives. But be careful: white beans are the easiest to puree. So if you use chickpeas, you may end up with mini chickpea grains in your chicken.
White beans: canned or not canned?
Personally, I prefer to use canned beans. Because they save you a lot of work and taste delicious. But you can also use dried beans. Here's how to prepare them: soak them overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, drain them, rinse them and cook them in boiling water until they are soft. I always add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to boiling water. The baking soda changes the pH of the water, making the beans softer and easier to puree.
Once the beans are cooked, you can follow the recipe as below.
How to make Vegan Chicken: Step 1
As I have mentioned several times, the preparation of the vegan chicken is really simple. We start by blending the beans with water, oil and salt in a food processor. Once we have a lump-free cream, we add the vital wheat gluten and continue blending until we have a mixture with a "minced meat consistency" (as you can see in the picture below).
Step 2: Shape the dough into a "chicken creast"
Once the mass is ready, we form what I like to call a "chicken breast". To do this, we press the mass on a cutting board (see first picture below). Then we fold one side over the other (see second picture below) and press the edges together to seal them. The "chicken breast" should look something like the third picture below.
Step 3: Wrap up the "chicken breast"
To keep the vegan chicken nice and compact during cooking we need to wrap it in baking paper and then in aluminum foil (see pictures below). It's important that the vegan chicken is packed tightly so that it does not swell up during cooking.
Step 4: Cooking the vegan chicken
We are now already in the final stages of preparing our vegan chicken. Once wrapped, we cook it in boiling water for 1 hour. After an hour we take it out of the water and let it cool for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.
I recommend cooling it at room temperature for a few hours and then putting it in the refrigerator overnight. This way, the next day it can be easily pulled apart into single chicken strips.
Step 5: Pull apart
Once it has cooled, we can tear the vegan chicken into small pieces. I do it with my hands, but if you want, you can also help yourself with two forks.
How to store vegan chicken
You can store the vegan chicken either in the refrigerator or in the freezer (depending on how long you want to keep it).
Refrigerator: Store in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.
Freezer: place the vegan chicken in an airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Let it thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Recipes you can make with the vegan chicken
- Extra Tasty Vegan Kabobs with Sweet Curry Marinade (Grill Recipe)
- Vegan Butter Chicken
- Vegan Chicken mit Tikka Masala Sauce
If you try this recipe...
Let me know! Leave a comment, rate it and don't forget to tag a photo with #carlocao or #vegaliciously on Instagram & Tiktok. Cheers, friends!
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