Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Corned Beef Sandwiches

We've made it aboard the Hogwarts Express! And somehow in my very long and in-order list of the foods appearing throughout Harry Potter, I listed that the very first food mentioned on the train is Ron's sandwich, made by super-mom Molly Weasley:

Ron had taken out a lumpy package and unwrapped it. There were four sandwiches inside. He pulled one of them apart and said, 'She always forgets I don't like corned beef'" (Sorcerer's Stone 101).

In reality, about half a page prior to this, there is a sentence containing a long list of wizard treats. But I've already made the corned beef. And if I don't post this now, it will be a long time before I can post again. So we're jumping over the sweets for a moment and making corned beef sandwiches!

This of course, presents something of a challenge, since corned beef is a very specific taste which I have not savored since early high school. I scoured the Internet for a vegetarian version of this Irish supper staple, and have decided to use one from And so, we begin our sandwich process by making a Vegetarian Corned Beef.

Dry Ingredients You Will Need:
2 cups vital wheat gluten (Whole Foods or similar health food store)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 Tbs vegetarian beef broth powder (I crushed up a No-Beef Boullion cube)
2 Tbs Onion Powder
1 Tbs smoked paprika
1 Tbs feenel seeds, ground (Note: if you can't find them ground, you will need a mortar and pestle. I tried to grind my seeds without one and they are just too hard; so my corned beef has the occasional crunch)
1 Tbs caraway seeds, ground (same note as with the fennel seeds)
4 juniper berries, ground (I could not find juniper anywhere, so I omitted this ingredient)
2 1/2 tsp sea salt (I recommend omitting this ingredient-- the roast is very salty)
1 tsp dried mustard (it's in the spices aisle)
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
bay leaves
Cheese cloth

Wet Ingredients You Will Need:
1 cup + 2 Tbs Vegetable broth
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs liquid smoke (hickory flavor)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs maple syrup
1 Tbs Tamari (soy sauce)

1. Put a large pot filled with 12+ cups of water on the stove, and bring to a boil while you do these other things. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

2. Whisk together the wet ingredients in another bowl.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Then knead for a few minutes with your hands until well combined and gluten strands begin to form.

4. On a clean surface, form the gluten into an oval about 8"x 5"x 1" (ish), and wrap in a double layer of cheesecloth, tying off the ends. Leave the cheesecloth a little loose, because the roast will expand while cooking.

5. When the pot of water is boiling, turn it down to a simmer and add two bay leaves and 1 tbs of juniper berries (if you have them). Place the wrapped gluten roast in the simmering water and cook for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

6. Remove the corned beef from the water and place on a plate to cool for 10 minutes or so.

7. When cool enough to handle, remove the cheesecloth and discard.

The texture is a little spongey, but the taste is definitely reminiscent of corned beef! Maybe the juniper berries make it spot-on. Anyway, now that you have a vegetarian corned beef, it's time to make a sandwich!

Slice the "corned beef" very thin, and layer it on your favorite bread slices with English mustard, thinly sliced onions, and swiss cheese (and if you're being really British, you'll butter the bread first... but I think that's kinda gross...).

Enjoy your sandwich (at least more than Ron did anyway!)!

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