Adventures in the Punk DIY Kitchen: “Corned Beef ” Seitan

St. Patrick’s Day is not a huge holiday out here in the Central Coast.   While there are a couple of decent Irish bars, its not the same grand holiday that you see in east coast cities like New York and Boston.  However, my husband and I try to do a nice American Irish dinner, usually corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and my mom’s Irish soda bread.   You can take the kids out of the east coast, but you can’t take the east coast out of the kids.

My son always asks why we celebrate St. Patrick’s.  I tell him its because we’re Irish by association, since my mother’s maiden name is Butler.  This does take a bit of explanation, because you have reached this far and are thinking, wait, Butler is an Irish name, so wasn’t your grandfather at least somewhat Irish?

To give you a bit of background.  Many a family will quickly shove those family skeletons as far back in the closet as they can.   Not mine.   We excitedly drag them out, sit them in the living room lazy boy with a nice drink in their hands, and make them a conversation piece.   So I heard the “Irish by association” story at a young age and I’ve proudly told it ever since.

The story.

My great grandmother was a Mennonite who ran away with an Irishmen in the mid to late 1800s.   They eventually wandered over the Oregon trail and settled in what would become Washington State.   They acquired some land and started a ranch near Tenino.   At some point, the Irishmen got wanderlust and headed out to strike it rich in gold prospecting.

I’m not related to this man.  But let me continue.

Great grandma hired a few Yakima Indians to help out with the horses and cattle.   As they say in the King James Bible, she “knew” one of them, and bore three children by said Yakima man.   Not one to quibble over last names, she gave them her Irish husband’s last name as well, which was “Butler”.

So…we’re Irish by association.  And I come from a long line of very unconventional women.

My grandfather is the one with the white hair.  This man is not Irish!
My Grandfather Butler is the one with the white hair. This man is not Irish!

On to the recipe.   I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 5 years now and I’ve always made some sort of stew for St. Patrick’s day.   This year I decided to try to make a mock corned beef.   This recipe is from Everyday Dish and is really tasty.

Seitan Corned Beef

1 gallon water (to boil loaf)

Dry Ingredients
2 cups vital wheat gluten flour
2 Tbs. granulated onion
2 Tbs. paprika
2 Tbs. whole fennel seed (coarsely ground)
2 Tbs. whole caraway seed (coarsely ground)
1 Tbs. salt
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground black pepper

Wet Ingredients
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. molasses
1 Tbs. vinegar
Cheese cloth (one double thick 24-inch by 16-inch piece)
2 – 6-inch pieces of string


1) In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to a simmer.
2) In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten, onion powder, paprika, fennel, caraway, salt, cloves and black pepper.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the vegetable broth, oil, molasses, and vinegar.
4) Combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients.
5) Form into a 5-inch by 8-inch loaf that will be about 1_ -inches thick.
6) Place corned beef loaf on cheese cloth and roll-up like a big flat rectangle tootsie roll (not to tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.
7) Place in simmering water, cover, and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
8) Take roast out of liquid and remove cheese cloth. Serve warm

While its not going to fool a meat eater, its really tasty.   I would cut back on the fennel seed if you don’t like fennel; its fairly prominent in the flavor spectrum in the dish.

However, like they say on the site, it makes really nice sandwich filling and I made a mock Reuben out of the leftovers for lunch.

My great grandmother would have approved.

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