Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Rachel

July 21, 2013

Move over '90s hairstylings, The Rachel is now a sandwich. It's a sister to the Rueben, with pastrami or turkey replacing the corned beef and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. It's modified further by Steen and Noyes into a day-saving vegan sandwich with baked marinated seitan and barbecue sauce.

Honestly, this sandwich is a solid day's work. First there's the chicken-style cutlets (which I adapted due to the usual U.S. vital wheat gluten/ Aussie gluten flour disparity), balls of super-gluten dough that are baked in broth for an hour and left to sit for at least two more.

Only then are the cutlets ready for marinating (1 hour) and more baking (30+ minutes). Still, they pop out sizzling with a crust of caraway and fennel seeds, dyed red with paprika and saucy with evaporated pickle juice. Yes, pickle juice. And it works.

This sandwich gets saucier still with Thousand Island dressing on the coleslaw and a recommended quarter cup of barbecue sauce per sandwich. I probably used less than half that and still found myself licking dribbled condiments from between my fingers.

After three weeks elsewhere, I was glad for a big kitchen project and we were both glad for the sandwich fillings in the fridge, ready to go all week.

'Rachel'-marinated seitan
(adapted slightly from a recipe in
Celine Steen & Tamasin Noyes' Vegan Sandwiches Save The Day)

2 cups gluten flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup chickpea flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon chicken-flavoured stock powder
1 cup vegetable stock, cold
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

3 cups vegetable stock
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup pickle juice
2 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds, ground
2 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

First you need a seitan dough. In a large bowl, stir together the gluten flour, yeast flakes, chickpea flour, garlic, onion powder, white pepper and stock powder. In a medium bowl, stir together the stock, vinegar and oil. Pour these wet ingredients into the large bowl of dry ingredients, combining them with a fork to form a dough. Add a little extra gluten flour or stock if needed. Knead the dough for about 4 minutes (I did this right in the bowl) and stretch out those gluten strands.

Preheat an oven to 150°C. In a large, high walled baking dish, whisk together the five broth ingredients.

Divide the gluten dough into 10 balls. One at a time, place the dough balls between two sheets of baking paper and roll them out to ~6mm thick. I found my dough to be quite elastic and often had to pull at the cutlets so that they weren't too thick. Plonk each one into the baking dish and don't worry if they're touching or overlapping a bit. Cover the dish with foil and bake the cutlets for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and allow them to rest in the oven for a further hour. Remove the baking dish from the oven, transfer the cutlets to absorbent paper and reserve the stock.

Use the empty baking dish to whisk together the marinade ingredients, adding 1 cup of the reserved stock. Toss in the cutlets and slather them in the (very liquid) marinade. Allow them to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Turn the oven up to 200°C and bake the seitan in its dish, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Turn the cutlets over and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, until the marinade is reduced to a sticky sauce clinging to the cutlets. Slice the cutlets thinly to use as a sandwich filling.

Team the thin seitan slices with coleslaw and barbecue sauce on rye bread to make a Rachel.


  1. impressive - I want it and yet I still feel nostalgic for the days when a sandwich was quickly slapping a spread or a slice between two pieces of bread :-)

    1. Hi Johanna - I guess there's a time and a place for both! And having seitan in the fridge made for some excellent slapped-together sandwiches during the week. :-)

  2. It does look great, but kind of an exhausting process. I might just go with a fried tempeh version with the slaw and dressing and leave it at that. I've never really eaten that much seitan and it seems like a lot of work unless you're really passionate about it.

    1. Hi Elizabeth! It is possible to buy seitan, which would cut the prep time down by 3 hours. But I really like your tempeh suggestion, I reckon that would be brilliant too.

  3. Woah, that's an impressive amount of effort for a sandwich! Looks well worth it though!

    1. Hi Lizzie! It was a fun project when I really did want to hang out in the kitchen. :-)

  4. This looks fantastic even if it was a fair bit of effort! I swore to myself never to make seitan in broth again after my first seitan making experience turned out so badly. Your seitan looks so good now I'm wondering whether I should give it another shot.

    1. Hi Mel! I'm still a bit of a seitan novice really, and I'm not sure that I've hit on my favourite technique yet either. Your tips on reducing liquids have sure helped though.

  5. I get more thrilled by the words "pickle juice" than anyone should be allowed to.

    1. Ha! Hannah, I am so pleased to have one pro-pickle juice and zero anti-pickle juice comments here. I think it's genius.