Friday, December 25, 2009

December 19-20, 2009: Christmas tofurkey

'Round Thanksgiving, I read enviously of any number of veg-friendly treats developed by north American bloggers. Then Michael found Bronwyn's tofurkey recipe and we made a pact to give this faux-bird a go together before parting ways for Christmas. On Saturday morning we stocked up on ingredients - one and a half kilos of tofu, herbs, cranberries and chestnuts. Chestnuts! If only I'd realised this tofurkey was so similar to the pecan-stuffed one in the Age, I might not have splashed out on that bafflingly expensive can of chestnuts.

Not that I was too regretful - we'd set all of Saturday aside to follow this recipe to the letter. Michael had even bought cheesecloth!

The cheesecloth is used to line a colander, which moulds the tofurkey. The outer layer of 'white meat' is made of tofu, blended with herbs and stock powder. We were lucky with the variety we bought - it was quite firm and blended into a malleable dough. But the water needs to be squeezed out to ensure it makes a firm shell. This takes a couple of hours.

This is plenty of time to make the stuffing - the typical savoury base of onion, carrot, celery and breadcrumbs is flavoured with herbs and a sweet mix of apples, chestnuts and dried cranberries.

Then more tofu goes on top and gets pressed down...

... before the terrifying tip-over! You can also mould tofu drumsticks and wings for a more turkey-like look, but we found that we needed all of the tofu to wrap around the stuffing. Besides, the tofu 'meat' is a little bland and dry - it's at its best with a generous serving of the stuffing.

Finally, this 'bird' needs glazing - with a fab concoction of port, balsamic vinegar, pomegranate molasses, wholegrain mustard and more herbs.

Just look at how that glaze bakes up! It's glorious.

It's quite a pleasant sight in cross-section too.

We served our tofurkey with instant vegan gravy, carrots and beans, and zippy warm potato salad.

I liked it even better as leftovers on sandwiches - I ate mine with tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard.

While the tofurkey is certainly pleasant to eat, I wouldn't recommend the hours of work it takes simply for its flavour. I think it's well worth the effort, though, for the event. As much as the eating Michael and I enjoyed building and anticipating the meal, then sharing our showpiece with friends and family.

For the recipe, check out YISBLOG.


  1. Merry Christmas guys!

    I bought 2 tins of chestnuts (whole and pureed) for Christmas this year, and indeed they are SOOOO expensive!

    I think your tofurkey looks great!

    xox Sarah

  2. i make a very similar "bird" every year, sometimes twice a year (there's a special occasion that suddenly calls for it aorund winter if i can be bothered). it's almost my speciality. i change the stuffing every year and have the recipe embedded in my head. once you get used to the task (i almost said chore!) of making this thing, it's pretty easy to get used to and to get into the swing of making your own adjustments. my favourite is to soak some dried yuba (bean curd) skins in the basting mixture and to wrap the top of the "bird" with it when there's abotu1 15 minutes left of roasting. yummmmie!

  3. That looks really good!!!! I nearly made tofurkey for christmas lunch but thought it would freak out the omni family too much!

  4. I've always wanted to make a tofurkey but am too fond of my christmas nut roast to do it on christmas day but must do it around the festive season one year - love the look of this one

  5. Oh wow! I want to try that next year! My mum almost had a heart attack when I told her I made vegan brandy butter (teehee, only joking mum), so I don't know how the family would react, but I can just eat it, right?

  6. Merry Christmas, Sarah! At least I have some chestnuts left over to try other stuff with. :-)

    Léna, your bean curd skin is INSPIRED. Best reason yet to repeat this dish.

    Thanks Vicki! I think you've gotta pick your audience with this one - I tried it on some of my omni family but wouldn't even consider it with others. :-D

    Johanna, just make sure you've got some tofu-receptive loved ones to help you get through it - this dish is even heftier than the nut roasts I've previously made!

    Absolutely, Penny! Or have a faux-Christmas with some friends who will enjoy it with you. :-)

  7. Glad you tried my recipe, guys!

    Re: the "meat" being dry and bland, it really shouldn't be. Well, mine never is, but that's probably because I go WAY overboard with garlic (which I accidentally omitted from the recipe when I wrote it up; serves me right for not reading over things before posting), herbs and stock.

    Re: the chestnuts, I should have specified that I use the vacuum sealed roast peeled ones you get from Asian grocers; they're only 2 bucks a packet!

    Anyway, I made the tofurkey again this year and it was a roaring success. I was too busy guzzling champagne straight from the bottle and arguing with my dad to bother taking any photos, lamentably...

  8. Hiya, Judy! I was thinking that I probably underdid the stock powder in the "meat" - will happily add some garlic next time too. Interesting that it's not been dry for you. I was thinking that it might be an inevitable part of pressing the tofu and making a firm mould, but it's heartening to hear otherwise!

    Did you see Léna's comment above about wrapping it in marinated bean curd skin towards the end? GENIUS.

    Thanks for the tips, Judy. :-)