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I would like to make naked fatties on the barbeque this weekend, but want to accomodate some vegan friends (and my on/off lacto-ovo wife). I can easily swap regular pork breakfast sausage for Gimme Lean, some other brand, or homemade. Ideally, I would like to have a hearty protein/nutritional medium at the end that is full of smoky flavor and could be used in other dishes too (i.e. chili, soup, casseroles).

I have lingering questions though:

  • Which brand (if I go with store bought, as I don't really see trying homemade breakfast sausage out for the first time as part of a meal for others) works the best? Not necessarily the 'meatiest'; which holds its texture and flavor through the cooking process without either breaking down? (Particularly with respect to long cooking, i.e. through smoking)
  • Would this work better with a quinoa chub instead of the vegan breakfast sausage? Or would the chub end up inedible? (Don't answer that if you think quinoa is already inedible.)
  • The recipe calls for using 1 lb sausage chubs (whole) with "indirect heat at 250 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, which will take about an hour"; how should I adjust cooking temps/times to account for it not being actual meat? (since veggie burgers, links, etc "cook" much faster than their meat counterparts.)
  • How can I ensure the range of effect in terms of the cooking process (smoking) imparting flavor is best preserved?
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Didn't know what those were before I checked your link, now I -maybe- am in love. –  Nate Apr 14 '11 at 15:34
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I just think it's kinda wrong that you're planning on using a vegan substitute. I'd just suggest getting new friends. –  yossarian Apr 14 '11 at 16:04
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Friends, yeah; replacing the lacto/ovo wife might be more expensive tho! –  mfg Apr 14 '11 at 16:06
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Surely, this thread wins for 'best ever title' on a post. –  KimbaF Apr 14 '11 at 17:12
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@Kimba my favorite is still How can I tell if a corpse is safe to eat? –  mfg Apr 14 '11 at 17:26
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

So yesterday I tried out the experiment. I made the naked fatty per the normal recipe, and using the gimme lean breakfast sausage. The two primary concerns I had were (a) to ensure the sausage didn't come apart during the smoking process and (b) to ensure a good amount of smokiness was imparted.

  • With respect to (a), the heat I worried might denature the exterior sausage bits, so I rubbed my hands, cutting board, grill grate, and the sausage with some canola oil. The hope was to try to have a protectant layer on the outside that would be hydrophobic, and reduce stickiness.
  • With respect to (b), I assumed the smoke from the charcoal would sufficiently suffuse the pork sausage, but was concerned about the vegan one. To create more smoke I roasted peppers and tomatillos for the latter half of the cooking process.

Results: Both ended up smoky and nicely textured. Neither was on the verge of crumbly bits, but rather tender on the inside and nicely glazed on the outside. The "meats" were very smoky, very well flavored (the rub was great, but my vegan bbq sauce from scratch not so good). When I incorporated it into chili I quartered the chubs lengthwise and put a quick sear on each edge. They were good short term, not so good long-term and became pretty soft and the flavor dimished. Next time I may try rolling it flat and smoking it that way so it can just be crumbled.

Takeaway: Smoking vegan sausage pulls out some really good stuff. Obviously it's not pork sausage, but it is a tasty meat substitute and smoking it is worth the effort. It doesn't take well yet to stock; further searing/cooking might be required.

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I've never tried this recipe, but based on the herbs it looks like it would give a good imitation of a sausage flavor.

When I lived in the US I remember Boca Burger and Morning Star Farms having pretty good sausage links, but unfortunately it looks like they contain whey and egg which I believe would not be vegan.

I've never tried them, but Linda McCartney Foods has a sausage they claim is vegan.

Since sausage is mostly about the herbs, texture, and fat content, you can get pretty close with a suitably textured vegetable protein along with the right herbs and spices. Look primarily for sage along with possibly garlic, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.

This article with a collection of recipes could also be interesting.

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This is referring to breakfast sausage chubs (if you check the gimme lean ingredients you'll see they're mostly TVP), not the links, which I double-checked are vegan –  mfg May 1 '11 at 16:25
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Understand now what you are looking for. Didn't even know veggie sausage chubs exist! One small trick I learned over the years with any veggie product is they usually market them on the fact that they are low fat. Not great if you want something that is more like sausage (or hot dog, burger, etc). I used to poke holes in them and soak in oil over night. Not so healthy, but much more meat-like if that is what you are after. Would highly recommend this technique if you are grilling, which will further dry out the veggie chubs. –  Todd Chaffee May 1 '11 at 16:53
    
I read up on doing vegan roasts after soaking over night but decided against it because I didn't want the inside to be too moist. I did go for an oil rub on the outside and surfaces though. This gave a bit of crisp to the outside during grilling, and the bbq sauce finished it off nicely. doing a bit of a jerk method might have added more flavor, but I wanted to minimize extra variables (jerking wasn't in original recipe). –  mfg May 1 '11 at 17:28
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There is no such thing as a vegan substitute for pork. You can make something that will be roughly the same shape and color, but it won't taste anything remotely like it, so don't even bother.

There are many delicious vegan foods that don't pretend to be something they're not. Here's one idea:

Take cooked black beans, rinse and drain well. Toss with halved cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley, olive oil and lime juice. Add fresh chilies if you're so inclined. (This will be served cold.)

Make a plain bread dough (flour, water, yeast, salt). Let it rise for an hour. (Or, skip the preceding steps and buy some raw pizza dough at the store). Divide into small pieces, roll them out flat, grill on medium heat for a couple minutes per side. (They won't stick, I promise.)

After grilling the bread, grill some vegetables. Eggplant does well on the grill, so do zucchini, peppers and mushrooms. Top with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I like to put the oil on after grilling, so it doesn't flare up).

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So do you want to try answering the question beyond the comment that there is no vegan pork substitute? Have you used or made breakfast sausage and smoked/grilled it before? I'm seriously interested in what the final product would be, not because it would mimic meat but because it might be really tasty. –  mfg Apr 14 '11 at 23:50
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he says there's no possible substitute, which should be accepted as an answer unless someone can come up with something that is a substitute. –  jwenting Apr 19 '11 at 13:10
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