This Food Network Friday I got to pick! I simultaneously love and stress out about picking. I want to pick something I think is tasty, that I think everyone else will enjoy, something that is a little tricky but not impossibly hard. Then I came along a recipe by Jeff Mauro the self-proclaimed Sandwich King for Reuben Meatball Sliders and knew it was "the one"! I had never had a Reuben pre-vegan but during sandwich testing with Tami and Celine, I tested a few and loved them! I know Tami and Liz both love a Reuben so I knew this one would be a hit.
In preparation for this Food Network Friday I watched a few episodes of the Sandwich King which just recently started airing up here in Canada and I gotta say...I'm not a big fan. My husband can't understand why I keep watching it since all I do is talk smack while it's on. I wasn't a fan while he was competing on The Next Food Network Star but I do like his show idea of making any sandwich into a meal and any meal into a sandwich. That's something I can get behind because I seriously love me some sandwich action! Now if he can just stop leaning on the counter talking to me as if it were completely natural and describing everything like he just got a new copy of the Oxford English Thesaurus that would be
And on to the recipe itself...We loved this one for sure! It wasn't insanely hard, came together pretty quickly, and most importantly tasted amazing. Tami was originally worried that we would all go with seitan for the meatball base so I made sure to mix it up. I decided to try (for the first time) a tempeh meatball. I love tempeh (as you might have noticed having read previous blog posts) and most of the Reubens I have loved so far have been tempeh based so I thought I would give it a go not really knowing what to expect. I started out by grating the tempeh with a box grater. I did half on the larger holes and half on the smaller side and I think that was a good idea. I liked the larger pieces for texture but the smaller side I think helped them hold together better. In the original recipe there is shredded Swiss cheese in the meatball which I decided to replace with a homemade Swiss-ish spread (recipe below!) that also helped pull it all together while adding a little zing. For breadcrumbs that were supposed to be rye bread I went with Glutino gluten free pretzels. I really love these pretzels despite their high price tag and they make an excellent stand in for breadcrumbs in just about anything. I fried the outside of one little meatball to check the seasoning and it fell a bit flat. I added some minced onion, upped the caraway and cheese spread and tried again and they were much tastier. I also reduced down some "beef" style veggie broth while I was making the meatballs and threw a splash or two of it in the pan once they were evenly browned to try to add a little "beefy" flavour to them. It worked to add the flavour but did soften the outside of the meatballs if only just slightly.
I took a peek at Liz's summary this morning and saw that we both used Tami's Reuben sauce from American Vegan Kitchen. I guess we both know who to look for Reuben advice. I had originally planned on baking up a batch of slider size rolls for this but then remembered the hundreds of other things I had to do this week so I went with some store bought hamburger rolls and cut them to size with a biscuit cutter. They did look really cute! Ryan decided he wanted more meatball per sandwich so he went with a full sized bun with a few meatballs all smooshed into one sandwich, more like a Reuben burger than slider but still delicious he said.
I definitely will be experimenting more with tempeh meatballs because they really did hold their shape well and the texture was perfect. I did write down what I did this time to share with you so let me know if you do try them!
Looking forward to next Food Network Friday!! Don't forget to check out what everyone else did with this one on Tami's blog and maybe next time you can cook-a-long with us!
Tempeh Reuben Meatball Sliders
Swiss Style Cheese Spread
1/2 box of Mori-Nu Extra Firm Silken Tofu
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp yellow miso
1 tbsp lemon juice (I used bottled)
100g whole blanched almonds
1/4 tsp salt
250g pkg of tempeh, grated
1 tsp ground caraway seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely ground gluten free pretzels
1 small onion finely minced
1/2 cup swiss style cheese spread
splash of Kitchen Bouquet
2-4 tbsp olive oil, as needed to fry the meatballs
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
1 cup of your favourite 1000 Island type dressing (my I recommend the recipe in American Vegan Kitchen if I haven't already!)
Dill Pickles on the side (absolutely necessary)
12 slider buns, toasted
1. Make the swiss style spread first by combining all ingredients in a high speed blender and blending at highest speed until smooth. (You can soak the almonds ahead of time to make this easier/faster but I tend to just throw them in and hope for the best. It also helps to add half of them at a time.) Set aside.
2. Combine grated tempeh, caraway, salt and pepper, ground pretzels, onion, swiss spread and splash of Kitchen Bouquet in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands until everything is uniformly mixed and it sticks together nicely when shaped into a meatball. You should be able to get 12 slider sized meatballs from this. Lay on a sheet pan lined with waxed or parchment paper until you are ready to cook.
3. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the meatballs. You may have to do these in batches depending on the size of your skillet, adding more oil if needed. Make sure to flip them around so all sides are evenly browned.
Optional step: Once they are browned, drain the oil in the pan and return to heat adding a few splashes of reduced "beef" style veggie broth to the pan and let it reduce down even further while flipping the meatballs so all sides get a bit of the flavour.
4. While your meatballs are browning, add the drained sauerkraut to a small saucepan and gently heat. Turn the heat to low and add the 1000 Island dressing, stirring to coat.
5. Once everything is warmed, assemble your sliders! Place one meatball on each slider bun bottom, top with dressed sauerkruat and finish by adding the top bun. Skewer with a toothpick to hold together until you are ready to eat! Enjoy!