Saturday, February 5, 2011
Tofurky Beer Brats Gourmet Vegan Sausages
As an avid cook, cookbook author and long-time vegetarian, I am always on the look-out for new products to try that are vegetarian or even better vegan and of course,taste great. They are some winners and losers out there, particularly when it comes to meat-substitutes/alternatives: veggie burgers, patties, hot dogs, sandwich slices. With so many people looking for ways to cut down or gradually eliminate meat from their diets, these products are steadily gaining popularity with not just vegetarians/vegans but meat-eaters too.
If you are looking for a good veggie sausage product to try, the Turtle Island Company definitely has a winner with their Beer Brats. Yum, yum...and not anything like some of the rather "scary" choices available that are in my opinion only a small improvement from regular meat wieners and sausages. And some of these with very questionable ingredient lists too.
What do I like about Tofurky Beer Brats? Well, the taste and texture of these sausages is exceptional. Spicy but not overly. A nice "meaty" texture that stays that way even after they are cooked. And ingredient lists that are much better than many similar products from other companies. Certified vegan too. One concern: I'd like to see a lower sodium content for these. Up with the herbs and spices (my cooking mantra these days) and lower the salt! Perhaps a low-sodium version is something this company might consider in future? I hope so.
I've found the best way to cook these veggie sausages is to saute lightly with a tablespoon of vegetable oil for a couple of minutes then add a small amount of water (2-3 tablespoons) cover and steam for about 3 minutes more. They also work on the grill but I do think the addition of water and steaming is even better, in terms of keeping them at their best for serving.
I noted at the Turtle Island site that the ingredients for U.S. and Canadian versions of these Beer Brats are quite different. Not sure why. This review is based on the Canadian product and I'm pleased to see that organic tofu tops that list.
If you haven't tried Tofurky Beer Brats and have been looking for a good, meatless alternative to sausages/hot dogs I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I know I was!
I also use these in a variety of recipes including the Russian Beet Borscht from my vegetarian cookbook: Not Just for Vegetarians. Finely chopped, they add a nice rich flavor to this and many other soups such as split pea, bean, corn.... Stop by my cooking blog to check out a number of soup recipes from the archives that include chopped vegetarian sausages or slices as an ingredient. Beer Brats are a flavourful choice for these or just on their own with side dishes or in a bun. I've also tried the other varieties of these sausages: Italian and Kielbasa, very good too but Beer Brats still came out as the top choice!
Keep in mind, these are BIG sausages (a whooping 3.5 ounces each) when deciding how many you need to buy for yourself and for your family! Visit the Tofurky site at: Turtle Island/Tofurky products.
PS: FYI. Update from an email I received from the Turtle Island customer service department: "The Canadian ingredients are different than the American ingredients because Canada has different requirements than the US. For instance, Canada requires vitamin fortification for meat alternatives and the US doesn't. Also, Canada forbids the use of the term non-GMO, so we leave that off our Canadian packaging even though all our ingredients are non-GMO. Also, yes, we are working on lower sodium options. "
Overall rating for this product: Very good. 4 out of 5.