Tofurky Experiment

This year, our four young adults arrived for the Christmas holidays from their University towns across Canada. They were able to spend a few days together, and also enjoy my mother’s company. Our daughter has long been Vegan, one son has recently become Vegetarian, and my mother has food allergies (including some tree nuts and seafood).

We always serve a traditional stuffed turkey dinner, with potatoes, turnip, green bean casserole, a few other side dishes and cookies, mincemeat tarts and fruitcake. It’s easy enough to make the gravy and stuffing vegan, if you carefully check the labels of gravy mixes and use vegan margarine instead of meat drippings for the gravy, and avoid the egg and butter in the stuffing, (checking the bread label) and using vegan margarine. We stuff the turkey, but prepare a second batch of stuffing generally in a casserole dish.

In previous years we have prepared a cauliflower curry dish as a vegan main course, or stuffed portobello mushrooms. This year we realized that the gravy and stuffing were the main attraction, so we decided to serve Tofurky. Tofurky is basically spiced Tofu shaped and stuffed with dressing. I searched and called several of our local markets to find Tofurky, but was unable to find any – and was Tofurky-shamed by a few grocers. “Don’t you know we sell out of these every year way in advance of Christmas?” I heard. – Well why don’t you stock more then I wonder?

After the last shaming, I thought how hard can it be to make Tofurky? I looked at several recipes – and they all involved the same process – blending Tofu with spices – forming it into a shell over cheesecloth – stuffing it with dressing – and placing it on a pan to bake in the oven – with a basting sauce.

I found that the Spruce had the most straightforward recipe.

I’m sure that the Spruce’s recipe is much better – but Christmas was approaching and I still had gifts to wrap – I prepared the Tofurky Christmas Eve, put it in the fridge overnight, stuffed it in the morning as my husband was stuffing the turkey, and baked it for 90 minutes in the morning before the turkey went in the oven. There would be no room for the Turkey and the Tofurky in the oven at the same time – and who knows they may splash each other. (Has anybody noticed that Tofurky lacks the “e” as in Turkey?)

I altered the Ingredients based upon what I had on hand – dried spices (although I have tons of fresh basil and parsley in my kitchen they were not required) instead of fresh, and chicken gravy mix instead of vegetable broth powder, and I used white instead of the recommended red wine!

  • 5 blocks firm or extra-firm tofu
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon vegan “chicken” gravy mix
  • 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

Tofurky Glaze/ Basting Mix

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce

Stuffing

  • 2 cups prepared vegetarian stuffing

In a large mixing bowl – blend tofu until smooth – or use blender or food processor – mix in spices.

Lay cheesecloth in colander. Press tofu mixture into colander to form a round shell. Mine was about an inch thick. Place in refrigerator for 3 or more hours over a bowl – so that the tofu sets and the extra liquid drains from the tofu into the bowl.

Remove tofu mix from refrigerator and stuff with 2 cups of stuffing. Bring the edges of the tofu over the stuffing. Turn what is now the Tofurky over quickly onto a baking pan. Mix together basting ingredients in a bowl and baste the Tofurky before it goes in the oven, and then every 15 minutes while baking.

Bake Tofurky for 90 minutes in preheated 400 degree oven.

I will definitely make something like this again, but this is really about providing something that is nice as a main course with gravy and stuffing and side dishes. It doesn’t really look like a turkey, which is fine, and the surface was quite crumbly for me – perhaps my tofu was too extra firm? Perhaps I didn’t need to make so much tofu for 2 vegetarians and the omnivore samplers? I don’t think I really needed the draining in the refrigerator step as only a few tablespoons of liquid came out of the tofurky in the refrigerator, and this might have made the dressing a little more moist.

My kids were looking for more stuffing and gravy with a side of Tofurky, so the next time around – I will place 3 cups or so of stuffing in a large loaf baking dish. Then I will blend 2 or so tofus with adjusted spices and spread it over the top of the stuffing – to make a Tofurkyloaf instead! The kids said the flavour was great, and they LOVED the basting flavour – so I will do that again! The dish was a success but I had 3/4 of it left over – and insufficient dressing.

Happy New Year!

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