Saturday, 14 September 2013

Morrisons Magazine Recipe - Veggie Version (Lemon and Thyme Quorn Fillets)

Now I am not the type of vegetarian who misses meat. I gave up eating meat over twenty years ago now, at the tender age of ten, so I can hardly remember what some meat tastes like, and have never even tasted some types of meat (to the best of my knowledge, I have never in my life eaten lamb, steak, veal, duck....the list goes on). But I am the type of vegetarian who sometimes buys 'fake' meat, for example, Quorn products.

Why? Well, in some cases, it can just be convenient to have an easy vegetarian alternative for me to use if I like a recipe but it contains meat. Or for example, I will often put Quorn or Linda McCartney veggie sausages and burgers on a barbecue, as part of the barbecuing experience seems really to be to have a burger in a bun. I will happily eat veggie skewers from a barbecue, or barbecued halloumi (yum!) too, but sometimes it is just so simple and tasty to have something ready to fling on the barbeque in the same way the meat eaters do. And I often throw some Quorn Chicken-Style Pieces into a stir-fry. Sometimes I don't, but other times, I like the taste of the Quorn and so in it goes - it's just nice to have another possible ingredient to include in my stir fries.

I also love watching cookery shows, but as so much of what is made on-screen can be meaty, 'fake' meat products can be an easy way of making the recipes they demonstrate vegetarian. Not always, of course, but sometime. The trick is figuring out which ones will work, and which ones won't. When I saw the front cover of the current Morrison's Magazine (September/October 2013 edition, free in-store), I knew immediately that I wanted to try that recipe! Shame I didn't notice the chicken in it.....oh dear. But then I thought, well, why not try it with Quorn Chicken-Style Fillets? So that is exactly what I did, a couple of nights ago, tweeting to anyone who would listen (including Quorn UK and Morrisons Magazine) about my exciting experiment.

So this is my report on how I got on.

The original recipe is Lemon and Thyme Chicken, which can be found on page 5 of the magazine. As well as using Quorn instead of chicken, I slightly altered some other details, just based on what I did/didn't have in the kitchen that day. I substituted onion for shallots, just because I had them on hand and didn't have shallots - the two do have slightly different tastes, but really you can easily substitute one for the other. I also didn't have any fresh thyme. At first, I thought I really should go out and get some, as it is a major component of the dish, but then I decided just to use dried, as it saved me a trip to the shops, and I figured that this was an experiment to see how well the Quorn worked, rather than anything else.

I'll also take this opportunity to mention that while I did use white wine, as per the recipe, I have discovered over the past couple of years that 'old' wine that has been open for a few weeks is absolutely fine to use in cooking. Of course I would never drink this old wine, but I use it all the time in my risottos - it just means that I don't have to worry about drinking the rest of the bottle when I open one to cook with! So in this recipe too, I used my old cooking wine.

I halved the recipe, as the original version is for 4, and I didn't want to cook that much (especially if it didn't turn out well!). But you could definitely scale it back up to a meal for 4 if you wanted to. So I used four Quorn fillets. As these were frozen, I defrosted them on 50% power in the microwave for a couple of minutes before starting my cooking. I followed the instructions to fry the fillets, but naively thought that since Quorn was not meat, it would need less time to brown, so could just go in with the onions. I have no idea why I thought this, as although this was my first time pan frying Quorn fillets, I do regularly stir fry Quorn Chicken-Style Pieces, and know how long they take to brown. Call it a blonde moment. So, if I were doing this again, I would do it as described in the instructions below, and wouldn't make the mistake of trying to cook the onions and brown the fillets together.

Quorn looking a bit pale, but otherwise, good!

1.5 tbsp olive oil
4 Quorn Chicken-Style Fillets
1 and a half medium onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tsp dried thyme
1 small lemon, half sliced, half juiced
125ml white wine

Heat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan). Heat a little oil (start with half a tablespoon and add more as needed) in a pan on medium-high heat. Season the Quorn and onion, then fry the Quorn until browned. Once browned, add the onion and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, thyme, lemon (both slices and juice), and white wine. Bring to the boil and then simmer for five minutes.

Transfer to a casserole dish and put in the oven. Cook for 35 minutes. (The Quorn will be cooked though already, so you can put it in the oven for less time if you like, I just felt it would help the flavours develop further.)

I felt that this recipe was a great success. I was initially hesitant about using Quorn fillets, as I find they don't always take on flavours in cooking as well as I am led to believe chicken does. However, probably due to the longer cooking time, I felt that the fillets really took on the delicious lemon and wine flavours in this dish. The thyme worked great, though I am sure that it would have looked more impressive if I had used fresh herbs. But I am a big believer in using what you have in the store cupboard where possible, and so really, unless I was cooking this for guests, I think I would always opt for dried thyme over fresh.

I would suggest serving this with some nice broccoli and carrots to make a tasty, healthy meal.

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