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The Tofurky is odd looking, but tastes pretty good. Just don't compare it to a real turkey.

Tasty tofu turkey won't woo meat gobblers


For vegetarians, the Thanksgiving meal is usually a smattering of side dishes: sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce and if you're lucky, meat-free stuffing. However, some veg-heads want to gobble like their carnivorous tablemates, which is why a soy product like Tofurky is a tempting choice. But how does it taste?

The Outpost in Bay View, 2826 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., donated a Tofurky to help us decide, and we cooked up a pre-Thanksgiving, vegetarian feast to get the skinny on soy turkey.

The vegan roast is a little smaller and rounder than a football and filled with stuffing. The lack of preparation is appealing -- no need to wake at 5 a.m. to run the almost-thawed bird under warm water -- just pop it in a 300 degree oven for two hours.

The box copy recommends basting it in an orange juice, soy sauce and brown sugar mixture and to serve it with gravy.

The Tofurky, in general, is nothing like the real deal in appearance, texture or taste. The texture is spongy and more like a soy hot dog or sausage with different seasonings. Also, it tastes bland unless you baste the faux bird. Also, we slathered olive oil and rosemary atop the "skin" 15 minutes before the cook time was complete for extra, much-needed moisture.

The stuffing inside the Tofurky was very good, especially after we added a few spices of our own.

Although visually the Tofurkey is an oblong oddity, it adds a main course to a meat-free meal. At the Outpost, the 3.5-pound Tofurky is $17.99 for the "feast" that includes the roast, gravy, dressing and a fake wishbone, and the 26-ounce Tofurky comes without the extras and costs $8.79.

"Tofurky is a great alternative that really helps Thanksgiving feel traditional, even for those folks who choose to skip the poultry," says Lisa Malmarowki, director of brand and store development for Outpost.

The bottom line on soy turkey is not to compare it to real turkey. It's like comparing apple and pumpkin pie. Meat eaters may find novelty in the idea of a meat-free turkey or feel drawn to the idea of healthier eating, but probably won't switch on taste factor alone.

Talkbacks

Z_boy | Nov. 20, 2007 at 1:39 p.m. (report)

Thanks, AnswerBoy. You pretty much verified what I already knew deep down, which is that most vegans/vegetarians are living a life of unfulfilled eating. As far as the factory farming is concerned, Milwaukee is now home to plenty of opportunities for organic, free-range meats (Outpost, Beans & Barley, Whole Foods, Sendik's). But hey, y'all enjoy your tofurkey ball this Thanksgiving, and if you imagine really hard (really concentrate now), you might just believe that it's a real bird. Okay, probably not. :-)

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AnswerBoy | Nov. 20, 2007 at 1:08 p.m. (report)

Ok, ZBoy, this is pretty easy, and I'm surprised that you're so baffled by this, but here's your answer: Plenty of vegetarians love the taste of meat. They miss it, in fact. But they chose to become vegetarians not because they hate the taste, but for various other reasons, including: they oppose cruelty to animals, factory farming, or they like the health benefits of not eating red meat. Or, some of us love the taste of a big, juicy steak, but are grossed out by the notion of gnawing on a hunk of cow muscle. We don't want our veggie alternatives tasting like bean curd, since we, too, love a good brat, just don't want to eat those "lips and a-holes" that go into them. It's not that complicated, dude. But don't stress yourself out. If you don't want to eat tofu, that's just fine. But leave the vegetarians and the vegans alone. They are taking absolutely nothing away from you.

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Z_boy | Nov. 20, 2007 at 11:54 a.m. (report)

MrsKC -- Ah, once again, avoid the questions. Obviously it doesn't affect me, I'm simply curious as to the thought process of a vegan/vegetarian. You're right, though, I really could care less. It's just interesting how I can never get an answer to my questions.

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MrsKC | Nov. 20, 2007 at 10:33 a.m. (report)

Z Boy- Why do you care? If you don't eat it, which you obviously don't, it doesn't affect you?

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Z_boy | Nov. 20, 2007 at 7:28 a.m. (report)

I've posed these questions before, and I never get an answer, so here goes again ... If I were a vegan or vegetrian, wouldn't I want my food NOT to taste or look like meat or anything from an animal? Yet look at the following: Tofu scrambler = scrambled eggs Soy cheese = dairy cheese Tofurky sausages = pork, beef or turkey sausage Tofurky = turkey Tofu burger = hamburger Vegan riblets = pork or beef ribs East Side Ovens bakery = Fine, European bakery Chicken fried tofu = chicken fried steak To me this says, vegans/vegetarians are feeling like they're being denied the real thing, so they create these items to at least try to look and taste like meat. Which, of course, is never the case. The flavor of meat beats these poor substitutes every time. I am, however, all for organic meats and humane farming practices -- this is where I hope food is heading more toward.

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