For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook (where I already shared this), I wanted to show you what I made in my new slow cooker recently: “double-duty seitan.”
Basically, I wanted to make a pot roast type meal, but with smaller chunks of seitan and I also wanted to make a large piece of seitan that I could freeze for later use. To do this, I simply cut half the batch of seitan into small chunks to simmer right in with the veggies and then I placed the remaining large piece of seitan on top of the other ingredients to let it steam-cook in the slow cooker. When everything was cooked, I set aside the large piece to cool (and then later wrapped and froze it) and we had the rest for dinner — with leftovers. I used the slow cooker pot roast recipe from Vegan on the Cheap.
As for the slow cooker itself, it’s the Hamilton Beach model that can be used on the stovetop, which will be great if I want to saute some ingredients for a few minutes before slow cooking, or if I want to reduce liquid at the end. I’ve only used it a few times, so I can’t give a full report, but it seems to work just fine so far. I got it to replace my large Crockpot SmartPot, that turned out not to be so smart after all — it never got about “warm.” The company replaced it with a new one — that had the same defect! So I decided to switch to Hamilton Beach (I have a 4-quart Hamilton Beach forever that I love).
Not sure what’s up with the SmartPot — several of the recipe testers for my upcoming slow cooker book have them and they work fine. I too had one that worked great for many years until the insert got a hairline crack in the bottom and I had to replace it. It went downhill from there.
What kind of slow cooker do you have? Does it have any “quirks” or does it do the job well?
Sunday seems to be an ideal day for using the slow cooker because it allows you to get something cooking early in the day so that you are free to enjoy whatever the day may hold. Too often I’ve gotten caught up in enjoying a Sunday afternoon activity, only to find myself unprepared (or simply not in the mood) to make dinner Sunday evening. (Right now I have a stuffed buttercup squash in the slow cooker for tonight’s dinner. Can’t wait.)
Whenever I know I have a busy afternoon coming up, I know I can rely on my slow cooker to help me get dinner on the table. I love seitan any way I can get it, but a seitan pot roast made in the slow cooker has to be near the top of my list of favorites. It was an easy choice for last night’s dinner menu. Within minutes, I was layering onions, potatoes, and little carrots in my slow cooker, seasoning them with salt, pepper, thyme, garlic, and vegetable broth. I then made a quick batch of seitan (from vital wheat gluten, which I buy in bulk). After shaping the seitan to fit in my cooker, I set it on top of the vegetables, turned on the cooker, and walked away. Within an hour, the house smelled amazing. Within 4 hours dinner was ready, even cooking it on low (I have several cookers — the one I used cooks quite hot, even when set to low). Fortunately, I had rubbed a little olive oil on the inside of the crockpot because the seitan wanted to stick to the sides, but it came loose easily after running a knife around the edge.
Instead of a sauce, I served the cooking liquid from the crockpot, which I later thickened by mashing some of the cooked veggies into it. The rich flavor of this meal is absolutely amazing and so easy. My only lament is that the potatoes and carrots don’t get that nice roasted brown crispness from oven roasting, but the rich slow-cooked flavors more than make up for it. To satisfy that crisp roasted craving, however, closer to dinnertime, I switched on the oven and roasted some asparagus. The photo shows a spoonful of horseradish in the foreground of the platter. I also served some applesauce on the side. What a great dinner!
Slow-Cooker Seitan Pot Roast
This is an easier version of the pot roast recipe in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.
Important: You may need to adjust your cooking time according to the quirks of your own crockpot. The one I used for this recipe cooks fast — if I had used one of my other slow cookers, it would have taken nearly twice as long.
1 sweet yellow onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved or quartered
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth, or more as needed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon ketchup or tomato sauce
1. Arrange the onion, carrots, and potatoes in the bottom of a lightly oiled slow cooker. Season the vegetables to taste with salt and pepper and add the stock, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the thyme and marjoram.
2. In a large bowl, combine the wheat gluten flour, onion powder, garlic powder, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each of thyme and marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Add the water or stock, soy sauce, and ketchup. Mix well, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry, then knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Shape the gluten to fit inside your cooker and place on top of the vegetables. (You can place it on top of a piece of aluminum foil or wrap it in cheesecloth, if desired, to keep its shape). Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours (or longer, depending on your slow cooker), or until the seitan and vegetables are cooked.
3. To serve, remove the vegetables and seitan from the slow cooker. Cut the seitan into slices and arrange them on a serving platter. Surround with the vegetables and spoon the cooking liquid over all or transfer the cooking liquid to a saucepan and thicken into a gravy.