These vegan “meats” bring the big BBQ flavor
Heat up the grill: There’s a new wave of meatless meats that promise flavor and texture, all without animal flesh. Say goodbye to sad, frozen veggie burgers—here are some plant-based meats that are sure to whet your appetite.
Take a stroll through your neighborhood Whole Foods Market’s meat section. You might be surprised to find two vegan products from Beyond Meat: the Beyond Burger and the Beyond Sausage. Located in the meat section to tempt meat-eaters into thinking differently about vegan options, these selections are made with pea protein instead of the usual soy or gluten. Most importantly, the burgers and sausages look and taste great.
You might have already heard about the Beyond Burger. It was lauded as the veggie burger that bleeds—a clever use of beet juice that gives the burger a familiar pink hue. Two pre-formed patties come in a package and sell for around $6. Uncooked, the burgers look like pink, raw hamburger—eerily close to a real hamburger. Like real ground beef, the pink browns as the burgers cook. When you bite into the burger, you see the pink center, and your mouth is filled with juicy “beef” with a smoky, umami flavor.
If you prefer sausages to burgers for grilling, you’re in luck. The Beyond Sausage launched this year; it’s the world’s first fresh, plant-based sausage. It comes in three flavors: sweet Italian, hot Italian and bratwurst. The casing is made from algae and is similar to animal-based casings, giving that first juicy bite the pop you’re expecting. Throw them on the grill and watch them sizzle.
For those who think the phrase “vegan meat” is an oxymoron, wait until you visit The Herbivorous Butcher (TheHerbivorousButcher.com), an online vegan butcher shop based in Minneapolis offering a range of meatless meats and dairy-free cheeses. Here you can find everything from pastrami to jerk chicken—all made in small batches. Since there’s no vegan butcher in Salt Lake (yet!), for your summer barbecues, consider ordering Herbivorous Butcher’s summer grill pack that comes with beer brats, bacon brats, Hawaiian huli-huli ribs and rib-eye, all for $90, which includes shipping in an insulated packaged with extra ice packs to ensure freshness.
“When it comes to grilling, take it low and slow,” advises Kale Walch, who, along with his sister, Aubry, are the masterminds behind Herbivorous Butcher. “Vegan meats are already cooked, so it’s about focusing on enhancing the flavor as opposed to cooking out food-borne illness. It can help to add a marinade, brush on a little oil, or add extra sauce to help keep the meats from drying out.”
It’s possible to sample Herbivorous Butcher’s artisanal vegan meats locally by attending the Vegan Meat-Up every Friday night at Ice Haus (7 E. 4800 South, Murray, 801-266-2127, IceHausBar.com). Also, Ogden’s Harp and Hound (2550 Washington Blvd., Ogden, 801-621-3483, Facebook.com/harpnhound) features a different cut of Herbivorous Butcher meats at its Vegan Saturday Nights in addition to a menu full of craveable vegan options.
Dave Morris, the man behind the meaty vegan menus at Ice Haus, Harp and Hound and Piper Down (1492 S. State, SLC, 801-468-1492, PiperDownPub.com), offers some tips on grilling vegan meats.
“The key to grilling vegan meats is fat,” he says. “Vegan meats do not have a lot of fat oozing out on a grill like well-marbled animal flesh does, so it’s important to keep it juicy.”
He keeps olive oil in a pump sprayer and uses it to season the grill and spray both sides of the meat. “You should have a shiny charred masterpiece to serve, not a sad, dry piece of wheat-meat,” Morris says.
Secondly, he says, cook vegan meats as though you were cooking animal meat medium-rare. You’re just trying to warm the insides. “The point of grilling is to give the meat smoky flavor, leave cool-looking grill marks and use that freaking $800 grill you bought the year before you went vegan,” Morris says.
Finally, he says, pick a good product. When he is feeling opulently carnivorous, he grills Herbivorous Butcher’s rib-eyes, filet mignons, smokehouse barbecue ribs and Korean barbecue ribs. “It’s expensive, and shipping is a pain, but you’ll enjoy the excitement when that chilled shipping box comes to your door,” Morris says.
And on regular days, his go-tos are Field Roast hot dogs and Beyond Meat burgers.