As I have mentioned a hundred million times both here and on twitter, I had big plans to make a tofurkey as part of the Christmas dinner I was doing for my visiting family. Why have I mentioned this so many times? Why will I not simply shut up about it? Well, just think about it! First of all, this involves the word “tofurkey,” which is incredibly fun to say. I want to work that word into my life as much as possible. TOFURKEY. Second of all, I have never made nor eaten one of these strange plant-based “birds” before, so the mysteries of this tofurkey loomed large in my imaginings. What would it be like? Look like? More importantly, taste like? Could I prepare it properly? Would my family eat it? To learn the answers to these and other important tofurkey related questions, read on.
First of all, I learned that while “tofurkey” is a non-trademarked catch-all term for meatless turkey substitutes, Tofurky (TM) is the brand name of this specific food item, made in Hood River, Oregon. Holla, Hood River! I like your style!
I pulled out this nearly empty bottle of bourbon to aid me in my cookery adventures — just in case it was needed. Who knows, right? Things could get weird.
First step: read instructions. As you may be able to read below, the first line says, “Cooking instructions are for a THAWED Tofurky! Plan ahead!” So, basically these Tofurky-brand people have no patience for those of us who might forget to thaw our fake bird in time to cook it. Well, never fear, I had PLANNED AHEAD! The bird was thawed and ready to go.
I opened the box and this is what I found:
More stern instructions and, well, a not-so-promising blob of vaguely turkey-toned substance wrapped in a plastic casing. I should also note that this thing is approximately the size of a small coconut and cost me $14.79 + tax at my neighborhood natural foods shop. Is that an appropriate price? I can’t really tell anymore.
Moving on. I followed the basting instructions, plopped the tofurkey into a roasting dish along with some sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and parts of a clementine. Things still did not look promising, did they?
I had no choice but to follow through on the instructions. During the time when the tofurkey and its attendant veggies were roasting, covered, in the oven, I was left to wonder how the scene was developing in there. Instead of fretting, I spent the time readying the other courses. I figured as long as everything else turned out well, my family would have something to eat and all would not be lost. Here’s what we had for our pre-tofurkey courses:
I made butternut squash soup — the same one I made for Thanksgiving — and it was awesome, as expected. I really love that recipe (found here). It’s easy and it looks far more impressive than it should. Also: salad, rosemary bread with roasted garlic to spread on it, wine. Gotta get the guys all happy and full of wine before the tofurkey comes out, I thought. Then maybe they won’t notice if it is terrible. Right?
Well, here’s what the tofurkey and veggies looked like out of the oven. The carrots and potatoes look great, but, well, the tofurkey still looks like a strange, round, definitely un-turkey-like blob. Okay then.
But then, something magical happened when we sliced into it and the slices all fell over in a line just like they should and the stuffing spilled tantalizingly out of it’s fake-bird container. It smelled great, and even looked generally all right. Nicely browned on the outside, tender on the inside. And basically everything looks nice alongside sweet potatoes, in my opinion. A sweet potato can do no wrong and if it chooses to associate with some fake-turkey dinner made out of magic and science, well, that’s fine by me.
Here’s what the bountiful plate looked like:
Also pictured: mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, roast asparagus, cranberry sauce. It was approximately four times more food than I should have eaten, but it was all delicious and Christmas, so I don’t care. I am also bound to tell you that my dad and brother both went back for seconds and thirds, getting more tofurkey each time, and thereby redeeming the fake meat through over consumption. Victory was mine!
And, since I had been working in the kitchen all afternoon, I happily left the aftermath to my dad:
Oops. It was kind of a horrible mess in here, and I think there may still be traces of butternut squash soup spattered everywhere due to a blender mishap, but I did not care. Why? Because I was stuffed with tofurkey and wine. That’s why.
I declare operation tofurkey a success! It’s definitely not something that will become part of my regular cooking repertoire, but if you are vegetarian and have omnivores coming over for a holiday-dinner-type scenario, it’s definitely a solid option. I will, however, be eating leftovers for approximately ever.