Although I was born and raised in cow country, fried chicken was a major part of my culinary life before I went vegetarian. Sunday dinner (which was eaten at noon) at Grandma’s almost always consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and apple salad. Typically, I never ate much meat, but filled up on mashed potatoes and gravy!
Grandma (now 90) still fries chicken occasionally, perching on her stool in front of the stove to turn the pieces with a fork. Gravy to go along must be cream gravy, and the women in my family have always scoffed at those who claim that making gravy is difficult. We’re expert gravy-makers, descended from a long line of German and English farm women who made gravy up to three times a day!
Making fried chicken into a vegan (or even vegetarian) dish took some thinking and planning. I started out experimenting with tofu, but it’s just the wrong texture. I ended up using gardein chick’n scallopini pieces cut into quarters, and that works well (but I would love for Quorn cutlets to be made vegan because I think that might work better – if you don’t mind egg whites, try Quorn and let me know how it turns out!) Be sure and use unsweetened soy or almond milk for the gravy – trust me, there is a difference! I learned to make gravy the way I learned a lot of things — by standing around watching Mom and Grandma — so there aren’t a whole lot of measurements in this recipe, just approximations….
Thaw the gardein pieces just enough so that you can easily cut them into halves or quarters. The soupy mess in the top right of the photo above is a mixture of Vegenaise (BTW, I do not recommend the Reduced Fat variety — just trying to use it up!) and soy milk. The gardein pieces need a little moisture so that they will pick up some flour for breading. Dip in soupy mess, then in flour mixture. Flour mixture = flour + salt + pepper. See? I told you I can’t really do measurements… And feel free to add in a tablespoon or so of cornstarch, which will help keep the gardein from soaking up a bunch of oil – neat trick I learned from a friend!
Peel your potatoes and slice into equally-sized pieces. Boil water and add potatoes; cook while frying chik’n and making gravy. (As an aside, lesson I learned years ago in my very first apartment: do NOT put potato peelings down the garbage disposal…) Boil potatoes until sticking a fork in them makes them fall apart. Drain, add margarine and soy milk and mash. I cheat using my electric hand mixer. 🙂
Add about 1/2″ of canola, peanut, or olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Toss a little pinch of flour mixture into the oil to see if it’s hot enough. Fry chik’n until golden brown. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
Pour all except from 3-4 tablespoons of oil out of pan and turn heat down to medium-low. Add 3-4 tablespoons of all-purpose flour (yes, all-purpose – I used whole wheat here and regretted it) to make a roux. Add soy milk to desired consistency and stir into roux. Turn heat down to low; you might have to add more milk to thin it out. Add white pepper and salt to taste.
Serve gravy, mashed potatoes, and chik’n hot and Enjoy!