VeganMoFo – Recreating America – The Halfpipe

On Sundays during MoFo I’ll break off with my theme of “Things I like” to bring you a recipe. Well, since I like the recipes too I suppose it’s not too much of a break. This is also the second in my series of recreating the dishes we ate in America.

On our second visit to Chicago Diner of this trip, I ordered their Halfpipe sandwich. I think the sandwiches there are the best things on the menu and this was a chance to try a different one. This is their version:

Mine does look a bit different but some of that was done on purpose.

Their dish is described as an “open rustic fresh baked hoagie topped with a crispy country fried seitan steak, piled on french fried onions, lettuce, tomatoes & Twisted Chili Sauce”.

Trying to remember what I loved about the sandwich, I knew my favourite part was the seitan and my least favourite part was the bread which wasn’t toasted and was a bit claggy, so I altered the dish a bit to reflect that.

For the seitan, I used two chicken seitan steaks per sandwich instead of one. I used the seitan lite from American Vegan Kitchen. For the breading and frying, I used a mix I already had in my kitchen, very helpfully labelled “Fried chicken spice mix” but unhelpfully not saying which book it was from. Racking my brains, I stongly suspect it was from “Hot Damn and Hell Yeah”, but you could use any spice blend really. This one is very flavoursome indeed, more so than the one used by The Diner, I would say. I dipped the seitan in soya milk, then the spice mix, then repeated it, before shallow frying in hot oil. I kept them warm in a low oven while I did the rest.

For the onions, I used less than the original. Matthew’s not a huge onion lover. I thinly sliced up one large onion, dipped it into soya milk then flour and briefly fried them in hot oil. You’d probably need an onion each to get the same effect as the original sandwich.

For the sauce, I hadn’t really tasted much chilli in the original. I did write down the amounts I used but can’t find the bit of paper. If I find it I’ll come back with them, but I mixed together vegan mayo, sour cream, ketchup, garlic powder, a splash of hot sauce and thinned it down a bit with the juice from a jar of pickled chillies.

If I’ve got a choice of untoasted bread versus toasted, I’ll usually toast, and this was no exception. I found the original bread a bit dry, and it also had some unmelted vegan cheese on it. I decided to enhance it a bit by toasting the bread with Cheezly mozarella on it so I had a warm cheezy start to the sandwich. Then I put on 2 seitan steaks, fried onions, shredded lettuce, and finally the sauce.

I loved the sandwich at The Diner and I loved the home created version of it too. I so often think that I’ll try to recreate meals I’ve enjoyed at home, but very rarely do. This has inspired me to do it more often, because I was able to take the parts of the dish that I loved, yet alter the parts I didn’t, to create something that, dare I say it, was better than the original.

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