Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oktoberfest: Tofu-Schnitzel Cutlet with Gingersnap Gravy

There are numerous places around here advertising "Oktoberfest" Menus, all as an excuse, I'm sure, to sell more beer! Not that this is a bad thing, but I admit I get tired of the very heavily meat-centric (though somewhat traditional) menu offerings all in the name of a German beer-and sausage fest.

In the days before refrigeration, it was nearly impossible to brew quality beer during the hot summer months. The answer, then, was to work overtime in March and April, making barrels and barrels of stronger, slightly hoppier beer and storing them away in ice-filled cellars or mountain caves to keep them cool.
In those days, barrels were precious commodities. So to free up the casks for the new batches of fall beer, folks would gather around harvest time for a Fall festival and harvest celebration to finish off the spring (or "March" beer), at this point mellowed and clarified by its cool summer-long rest, thus allowing barrels to be reused for fall brewing. And there you have my one-minute history lecture on Oktoberfest. Yum.

Being of German heritage, I decided this was a good afternoon to make something remotely Schnitzel-ish, yet vegan, to go with a good gingersnap gravy and a bottle of Cascade Brewing Company's Apricot Ale.
Yes, cookies in gravy, apricots in beer.

Sounds crazy till you try it! I admit it took me a while to try the gravy especially (as gingersnaps are my LEAST favorite cookie in the world) but this spicy sweet-and-sour sauce (not so much gravy really) is actually VERY good! (So is the ale, but I don't have a recipe for that)!!

Tofu-Schnitzel Cutlet

2 pounds extra-firm tofu, sliced in 3/4 inch sliced (frozen-thawed-pressed is best here, but regular firm, straight form the package works too).

1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup broth
1 tbsp marmite or soy sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (or Bacon Salt)
- - -
1/2 cup whole-wheat (or rye) flour
2 teaspoons caraway seeds, crushed if possible
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 cup dry whole grain breadcrumbs
oil to fry, I prefer coconut oil here

Slice tofu approximately 1/2″ thick. Marinate overnight in Marinade.

On a plate, mix together flour with spices.
In a bowl, stir together milk and liquid smoke.
Place breadcrumbs on another plate.

Drain tofu slightly, leaving it a bit damp. Dip tofu in flour mixture, then milk, then breadcrumbs, coating on all sides. You may need to press the coating on a bit.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and fry on each side, approximately 2-3 minutes, until golden. Repeat with remaining tofu.

Keep warm in a single layer in the oven.
When all are finished, serve with Gingersnap Gravy.

Surround with steamed new potatoes dressed with margarine and parsley and some good (NOT canned, acceptable from a glass jar, but the 'fresh' stuff straight from the deli is my preference) sauerkraut.
Alternatively, I love this with steamed, broccoli, kale and beets and a fresh carrot salad. Any of those fall veggies work well here.

Gingersnap Gravy

1 small onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp margarine
1 cup tomato juice
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup brown sugar
10 vegan gingersnap cookies, crushed
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder

In a small skillet, cook onion in the margarine until very soft, put a lid on the pan if onion starts to brown too much.

Meanwhile bring tomato juice and broth to a simmer in medium saucepan. When onion is very soft and somewhat browned, add to saucepan and broth. Add brown sugar, cookies, vinegar and onion powder. Simmer on medium, stirring with wire whisk frequently, until cookies have dissolved and thickened sauce. (If you want to run through a blender at this point, for a smoother gravy, that's your choice - it's good either way).
Pour over 'Schnitzel' or German veggie-meaty item of your choice...


Rose said...

Such an interesting recipe! And thanks for the history of Oktoberfest...never knew any of that.

Vegan in Salem said...

This looks SO good! I am def trying it this week..thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hahaha...I love how you qualify your sauerkraut :-)


Tiffany said...

YUM. Loved stuffing my face with schnitzel back in Vienna, but haven't had it since returning, or becoming vegan, for that matter--in other words, I'm long overdue for tofu schnitzel enjoyment. Thanks for sharing!

Lindsey said...

That looks awesome! Do you think it's Thanksgiving friendly? It definitely looks like it could be a great substitution for turkey if you have some meat eaters over. :)

Tofu Mom (AKA Tofu-n-Sprouts) said...

Lindsey, I am not sure this would be a huge hit with meat-eaters - it is STILL just slices of tofu underneath it all.
The texture and bland taste (despite the marinade, it's still a bit bland, quite frankly) might be off-putting.
The gravy is an earthy sweet-and-slightly-sour "sauce" and not at all like Thanksgiving turkey gravy and such, it's definitely GOOD but wouldn't be very "traditional" or much of a substitute for anything turkey-like... That's just my opinion, you know what your family likes better than I.