What to do about vegetarians on Turkey Day? There's a solution: Tofurky. It loosely resembles a rolled turkey breast, but it's made of tofu and wheat protein. It's even stuffed, and comes with a bag of gravy, four drumsticks and (new this year) "wishstix" made of Tofurky jerky.
I arranged for delivery of my "delicious vegetarian feast," which defrosted as one among us prepared for opening day of deer season. The plan was to roast the Tofurky just as the hunter was leaving for the deep woods. A week off work and a homemade key lime pie didn't stop him from whining, "I like tofu."
The irony escaped him, so I cooked the Tofurky a day early, following the package instructions.
Out of the box, Tofurky is about the size of a Cornish hen and looks like it's wrapped in a sock (it isn't). Baste it with soy sauce and orange juice and roast for 40 minutes. When sliced, the Tofurky attractively surrounds the lighter stuffing.
The response at our house was underwhelming so I brought the leftovers to Barry Eidlin, a vegetarian celebrating his ninth anniversary of meatlessness.
Eidlin, who is a fundraiser for the Teamsters for a Democratic Union, said that vegetarian food designed to resemble meat is usually a disappointment. "I avoid fake meat stuff. It's usually overly processed and overly expensive."
He took two servings home. He reheated his in the oven, while his significant other nuked hers. She was negative about the results.
Eidlin said, "Not bad." He preferred the drumsticks, which are made from a soy product called tempeh. They look like they're shaped with cookie cutters and make little attempt to actually taste like dark turkey meat.
The "white meat" tries harder to resemble turkey breast. The texture is dense, and several of my tasters complained that it was rubbery, although one said cheerfully, "Rubbery is OK — I like calamari."
I asked Eidlin how it felt to be a vegetarian on Thanksgiving. He grew up in Guelph, Ontario, where Thanksgiving is celebrated a month earlier and without the fanfare it is accorded in this country. He was introduced to the American style of Thanksgiving during his four years at Oberlin College in Ohio. He lived in a vegetarian co-op on campus.
"We made our own tofu turkey," he said. They started with a really big mound of stuffing and then layered over it with tofu. "Actually, it looked more like an igloo," he admitted.
Tofurky is available from Turtle Island Foods. Call 888-TOFURKY. Or check out the Web site.— Elissa Karg
Buddy's Pizza is making a $2 donation to the St. Vincent and Sarah Fisher children's charity for every Carmen Harlan signature pizza ordered over the next couple of weeks. The pizza includes cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, green pepper and onion. ... Need turkey cooking help? Call Perdue's emergency tip line at 800-4PERDUE, or visit Cook's Illustrated magazine's online how-to guide.