(vegetarian) buffalo wings

tasty, fast & healthy, these (vegetarian) buffalo wings have it all - tender, spicy seitan with just the right amount of heat.  

the first time i ever tasted buffalo wings was when i was pregnant with helena.  before that, i had spent the first 25 years of my life detesting & refusing to eat meat-off-the-bone.  ugh.. shudder.  the whole concept of it just wasn't for me.  flash forward, and there i was, at a local pub when the craving hit.  i absolutely had to, right then, eat some buffalo wings.  and so i did, and i realized what i had been missing.  tiny crisp, tender pieces of chicken, fried and smothered in buttery hot sauce.  creamy dressing on the side.  thank you, helena.

when i became a vegetarian, i figured my wing days were over.  sure, there are some faux meat substitutes out there, but none of them were ever quite right.  but then, at yet another philly pub i saw vegetarian wings on the menu.  the craving struck and i took a chance.  oh man, i am so glad i did!  these wings were just as good - if not better - than the real deal.  the flavor of the 'meat' was more complex, the sauce richer.  i knew i had to re-create them at home.

this recipe is the result..  the secret?  seitan.  yes, that strange vegetarian protein, also know as 'wheat meat'.  the cool thing about seitan is that is is a perfect meat replacement in certain recipes.  wings (obviously), but also things like cheese 'steaks', stir-fries, stews... the list goes on.  and, because it is made from wheat gluten and not soy-based, seitan is appealing to many non-soy eating vegetarians/vegans.  

ok, back to these wings.  

standard buffalo wings, while crazy delicious, are not the healthiest.  the chicken is deep-fried.  the sauce is full of butter.  these wings, on the other hand, are quite healthy.  the seitan is tossed with simple spices and baked.  the sauce contains just 2 Tbsp butter.  even better, they are packed with flavor.  the sauce is hot & spicy, just buttery enough.  the wings have that perfect chewy, meaty texture.  these things are as close to the real deal as you can get.  but better. 

whether you're a vegetarian, a vegan or a die-hard meat-off-the-bone eater, these wings are a perfect stand in for the real thing.  grab a stack of napkins, a big ol' plate of these wings and get your taste buds ready.  your wing-loving mind is about to be blown!

recipe: vegetarian buffalo wings

ingredients:

  • 1 standard 8oz package traditional seitan
  • 2 Tbsp butter - non-dairy butter works 
  • 1/2 c hot sauce - Frank's brand recommended
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided (1/4 & 1/4)
  • 2 tsp honey (a hearty drizzle) - maple syrup if vegan
  • creamy dip (ranch or blue cheese dressing are traditional)
  • carrot sticks, optional

method:

  1. preheat the oven to 425 & lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet
  2. drain any liquid from the seitan, pat dry and toss with 1/4 tsp garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper
  3. bake on a lightly greased, rimmed cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  stir and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  4. while the seitan is baking, heat the butter, hot sauce, remaining 1/4 tsp garlic powder, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper in a small saucepan.  when the butter is completely melted, remove from heat and set aside.
  5. when the 5 minutes is up, add the seitan to the sauce, toss to coat and return to the baking sheet, shaking off excess liquid.  
  6. heat for 5 minutes, remove from oven and immediately transfer to a serving dish.
  7. add some dressing on the side, & carrots if desired.
  8. enjoy!
  9. xoxo,
  10. s & h