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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegan Books

Field Roast:
101 Artisan Vegan Meat Recipes to Cook, Share & Savor

By Tommy McDonald

DaCapo, 2017

Hardcover, $30

Why buy a Field Roast at the supermarket, when you can make it yourself? In his book, Field Roast Executive Chef Tommy McDonald shares the secrets of roasts, sausages, burgers, and deli slices that can be prepared in any home kitchen. None of the recipes in the book feature soy.

In the foreward to this book, Founder and President David Lee explains the story of Field Roast that began over 20 years ago in a quest to introduce the public to what he calls "real vegetarian meat" that is grain-based. "I discovered the centuries-old Asian tradition of using wheat as a protein food, such as mien ching (Buddha's food) or seitan," he says. Lee has entrusted Chef McDonald to bring the details to the public in this book.

Field Roast Book McDonald begins the book with Essential Ingredients & Tools of Our Trade. Here he describes familiar items that are often present in many home kitchens. Less likely might be butcher's twine, sausage casings, vital wheat gluten, garbanzo flour, mirin, and a meat grinder (especially in vegetarian/vegan kitchens). The author explains that vital wheat gluten is high-protein wheat flour with the starch washed away. The garbanzo flour is used "to add tenderness and soften the bite of the strong high gluten flour."

A starting point for many home cooks wanting to create the dishes in the book is the brief chapter Making Vegan Charcuterie at Home that offers five tips for making sausage and five more tips for creating roasts.

Roasts, Stuffed Roasts, Breaded Cutlets could be considered the heart of this cookbook because it contains these three recipes that are incorporated into dishes appearing in later chapters: Lemon Grass and Ginger Roast, Mushroom and Herb Roast, and Pastrami Roast. The dry ingredient foundation of all three is a combination of vital wheat gluten and garbanzo flour.

Grain Meat Grind is the starting point for making sausages, meatloaf, burgers, and pâtés, all with vital wheat gluten as the principal ingredient. As McDonald explains, "At Field Roast, we actually use a meat grinder, but in a pinch you can get great results with a run-of-the-mill food processor instead. We always use a food processor as a shortcut for making piecrusts and minced vegetables."

Throughout the day vegans can enjoy dishes that feature recipes from the book. For breakfast there are creations like Chicken-Fried Sausage and Waffles, Biscuits and Gravy with Spicy Sausage and Corn, Green Machine Breakfast Burrito--all products of the grain meat grind.

Of course, when there's a roast, there will be sandwiches like Smoky Banh Mi, Pastrami on Rye, and Cornmeal-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Po'boy. There are also ideas for including roasts and grinds into soups like Posole Verde, Pea Soup with Charred Spicy Sausage, or Italian Wedding Soup. Not all of the soup recipes feature roasts or grinds. For example, Roasted Sugar Pie Pumpkin Stew and Roasted Chili Tomato Bisque are without these ingredients.

Tommy McDonald Not all of the salads depend on roasts or grinds. Larb Salad, Cascade Cobb Salad, and Lomi Lomi Salad do contain them, but Macaroni Salad, Chilled Asparagus Salad with Hazelnuts, and Laotian Citrus Salad with Herbs don't. Vegetables and Sides follow a similar pattern.

Main Dishes that call out, "Make me!" include Curry Katsu that features Island-Style Coconut Dippers, which is another recipe in the book, Tuscan Shepherd's Pie that includes the recipe for Fennel and Garlic Sausage, and Mofongos that features Lemongrass and Ginger Roast. In all of these recipes as in many others in the book, the cook can purchase the roast or ground foundation ingredient in the supermarket. The Field Roast Lentil Sage Quarter Loaf can be purchased and is a recipe to substitute for Lemongrass and Ginger Roast.

Sauces, Stocks, Dressings & Dips--this brief section offers vegan versions of hollandaise, béchamel, barbecue sauce, and dressings. What about desserts? No one expects a roast or sausage will show up in the dessert section, and they don't. Three dessert recipes--Vanilla Rhubarb Hand Tarts; Red, White, and Blue Strawberry Shortcake; Deep Chocolate Raspberry Cake make a delicious conclusion to a vegan Field Roast meal.

The book is a graphic joy that demonstrates the power of so many gorgeous, full-color photographs to lure the home cook into the kitchen. The food styling is tasteful and eye appealing, yet easy to reproduce at home. The recipes are well written and contain easy-to-follow numbered steps. Also appealing is the choice of shiny, clay-coated paper that enhances the photos and resists sticky fingerprints. The book concludes with Metric Conversion Charts and a page of Sources.

Field Roast is essentially a book about making seitan, but this seitan mimics what you would buy when you pick up a package with that same name in the store. There is no recipe in this book for any of the Field Roast products you would buy in the store. That would be giving away trade secrets. One caveat--in an era where some people want to avoid gluten, the book may have some detractors. Field Roast is an excellent roadmap for anyone wanting to make delicious vegan roasts, sausages, burgers, and deli slices without using soy. The volume is lavishly illustrated and almost makes the home chef say, "I want to make it and serve it to my guests."

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