^
Keep New Times Free
4

AndyTalk: A Tale of Two Ground Beef Substitutes

See also: AndyTalk: Four Riffs on Caprese Salad See also: AndyTalk: Use More Pepper

Does mock beef actually mock beef? Or, does fake beef really do justice to the image in which it was created? Does it taste as beefy as the photo on the package? Before I tasted faux flesh I'll admit that I girded myself to be underwhelmed.

I bought two ground beef substitutes. I made dinner two nights in a row to see 1) how easy they were to use, and 2) how they tasted. There were a number of similarities between both brands:

  • Both were easy to use. Open a box, slit a plastic pouch, put in the pan and heat.
  • Both were grayish brown, crumbly, and bland.
  • Both were dry. I had to add liquid to achieve a mouth-friendly consistency.

I started each meal with some sautéed onion and garlic. I added tomatoes, shredded kale, minced almonds, and coconut milk to the Lightlife meat substitute. I cooked until the small amount of excess liquid had evaporated. I seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. It took more salt and pepper than I'd have expected. I spooned some onto a corn tortilla and topped with Manchego cheese for a soft vegetarian taco. It was good, but not great. I give it and myself a 3.5 out of 5.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

With the Gardein I added shredded Brussels' sprouts to the garlic and onion. After adding salt and pepper it had a taste reminiscent of barley (one of the ingredients). By adding a few tablespoons of red wine and some balsamic vinegar it had a more savory flavor. I spooned the Gardein mixture into halved and hollowed Roma tomatoes and topped with a little cheddar. After baking the mixture looked like ground beef and tasted better than the Lightlife. I give it and me a 4 out of 5. In fairness to Lightlife, 20 minutes in the oven browned the Gardein's top and added the good flavors that gave it the win.

Meat substitutes are a good option for recipes that gain most of their flavor from their seasonings; things like lasagna and tacos. If you're craving a good juicy burger you'll want to avoid meat look-alikes. It's possible to make them taste good, but you'll be asking yourself "where's the beef."

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

Follow Chow Bella on Facebook , Twitter, and Pinterest.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.

 

Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.