It’s one thing to create a dish that becomes a viral video sensation, but it’s quite another to create a dish that people actually want to make. To me the real success of the Veggieducken is not that it swept the food-centric interwebs by storm in the weeks before Thanksgiving, but that I’m hearing from Eaters across the world who are making it and reporting back with their findings.
I didn’t start The Sporkful for the glamour, although believe me, when I’m pushing dirty dishes off my kitchen table/desk so I can write blog posts at 1 a.m. while my wife and daughter sleep, I feel quite glamorous. No, The Sporkful isn’t about the bright lights of the World Wide Web, it’s about a community of like-minded individuals from across the Eatscape coming together to make the world a more delicious place.
So I’m pleased to share the above photos from Alex Goldmark and the notes below from Dan Goldstein and Mirjam Lablans, two vegetarian Eaters who managed to elicit “ooohs and aaahs” with their take on the Veggieducken. (See also the Veggieducken video, podcast, and recipe with photos.)
Like many Eaters I heard from, they were unable to track down a banana squash, so they used two butternut squashes instead. And Alex says, “We did find success in speeding the baking along without drying out the Veggieducken, by pouring the extra veggie stock/gravy into the pan and covering the whole thing with tin foil and upping the heat.”
Here are more detailed thoughts and tips from Dan and Mirjam...
The Veggieducken was a lot of fun to make, and definitely gave me a sense of having been more involved with the process of creating the Thanksgiving centerpiece than I normally get to experience as a vegetarian. We tweaked the recipe a bit by adding a chopped up celery root and some pre-packaged chestnuts to the stuffing, and swapping out the red peppers for green ones, which I think added a nice flavor to the overall dish and slightly reduced the sweetness. Hollowing out the butternut squash was a bit tricky and dangerous, so I don’t necessarily recommend going that route. I assume that a banana squash would have been a better choice if we had been able to find one in time. But we did find that even the skin of the squash turned out to be an enjoyably edible part of the final dish.
We started getting worried at around the two hour mark of baking when the squash still did not appear to be fully cooked. But Alex and Mirjam’s genius maneuver of pouring in the extra veggie stock/gravy into the pan and covering the whole thing with tin foil at higher heat quickly saved the day. We did get some feedback that incorporating a protein into the Veggieducken might have given it a more filling centerpiece-like quality, but highly concentrated proteins aren’t found in many simple naturally-occurring vegetarian/vegan foods, so I think that adding one might have the side effect of making the dish tastier to some folks while making it less palatable to others. Possibly more chestnuts or other nuts or legumes could help in this regard. Overall, I thought that the finished product tasted very good, and made for great leftovers. I do think there may be some way of increasing the savory qualities of the dish even further. Next year we will try to figure that part out! Thanks for the fun experience!!!
The sautéed onion/garlic/pepper mixture did have quite a bit of liquid in it, which I siphoned off as I cooked it (the remnants of which were made into an interesting savory/sweet cocktail by Dan). I would recommend draining the peppers after dicing if you're putting them in a food processor to avoid sogginess. We also nuked the sweet potato quite a bit more than two minutes, but he wasn't a little guy so maybe getting a skinnier potato would have avoided that issue. Stuffing the squash was a lot of fun for me. It's an enjoyably messy experience and you get to sample your work before it's done. Yum! Other than that, really, besides from eating the Veggieducken, the best part was bringing the dish out to the table and having people "oooh" and "aaah" over it like a bona fide Thanksgiving Day centerpiece.
To echo Dan, thanks for the experience. It was a lot of fun and very tasty and made me genuinely look forward to being a vegan at the Thanksgiving table, rather than just being the odd one out.
Thank you to all three of you for sharing! If you have your own tale of Veggieduckendom, drop me a line!