By ayr February 4, 2010


Time for the BBQ. This sandwich is a funny one. We didn’t bring it into the line-up out of the gate. It was the last of the regular sandwiches to hit the street. Rolando was pressing me, “what else, what other sandwiches?” Part of what has worked so well for the two of us is that I’m vegetarian, he’s not. We both love food. So I have a history of trying to make food I love to eat that doesn’t have any meat. Some of you have tried this. It takes some creativity and a spirit of adventure. Rolando has a meaty palette. He was able to taste stuff I gave him and say “yuck,” or “with some changes this might work.” Then of course he would work some of his magic, scale it up, and bingo.

One of the sandwiches I’ve always loved to make at home is a seitan sandwich. There is some store-bought seitan in a Teriyaki sauce that I’d throw into a pan, brown, then add caramelized onions and melt cheddar cheese. I’d add the best tomatoes I could find and it was a meal.

(keep reading for the rest of the story, and nutritionals)

So when Rolando was pushing me I told him about this sandwich. We grabbed some seitan and I made one for it. He wasn’t sure at all and we back-burnered the idea.

Clover is determined to avoid fake meat. Seitan has a real history, almost as old as Tofu and Tempeh (which I think stand on their own as vegetable products, not “fake meats.”) But it’s definitely more borderline in those regards. We didn’t want customers to feel it was a fake meat. Further, Rolando just didn’t like it. He had a strong reaction to the texture.

One day Rolando came to me and said “try this.” He had a seitan sandwich, but he’d made it with BBQ sauce. We were liking it, but it still wasn’t quite there. So we bought a dozen different brands of seitan. Nada. Just wasn’t working. Seitan is typically made with asian flavors (ginger, soy sauce, etc.). And the texture was still giving Rolando the willys.

So we rolled up our sleeves, literally, and started kneeding wheat gluten, or “vital wheat gluten” as it’s often called. It’s what seitan is made from and it’s 95% protein. Basically wheat is washed until nothing is left except protein. As with everything we do we screwed up a bunch. We made tough seitan, squishy seitan, mushy seitan. Lot’s of disgusting seitan. But we started to learn how to achieve a “marbled” effect. And learned how the cooking process could bring other textural variations.

But it wasn’t over. We’ve probably changed the BBQ sandwich about 20 times since we started serving it. Everything from BBQ spices (upgraded to the good stuff from Christina’s, away from the junk at Restaurant Depot), sauce, technique, other ingredients (soy mayo was axed), cheese. Pretty much everything has changed. And I’m sure it’s going to get better. So give us your feedback. We need your help getting to that next generation.

So what’s in it? A bit of mayo (watered down, it spreads better that way), green leaf lettuce, tasty tom tomatoes in the winter (field tomatoes in the summer), seitan, BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, Vermont cheddar cheese (those last 4 ingredients are baked in an oven).

Calories 320 kcal

Carbohydrates 47 g

Fat 7 g

% calories from fat: 20%

Protein 17 g

Fiber 10 g

Cholesterol 9 mg

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