There are a ton of blogs and recipes on the internet about how to make vegan fried chicken using Gardein Chick’n Scallopini. Almost all of the recipes use cashews, soaked overnight, and then pureed and strained to create a cashew cream.
Sounds intriguing – but with organic cashews running $ 10-12 per pound at my local Earth Fare, using cashew cream is a pretty expensive (and time consuming) route to go if you’re not a strict vegan. (Plus you’ve got to remember to soak the cashews the day before. That kind of advanced planning sure kills spontaneity!)
Although I try to eat vegan meals several times each week, I do eat eggs, which are a great binding agent for breading. So, I decided to experiment with my own version of vegetarian fried chicken using two farm fresh eggs from a local farm ($0.66 based on a $4.00 per dozen cost at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market) instead of the more costly cashew cream.
Most of the recipes I looked at only use flour – and although I love King Arthur Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, you can’t get a really crispy coating using just flour. But flour is necessary in order to create a barrier between the breading and the food, so I always dip any food I’m frying into flour before dipping it into an egg wash.
Craving a crunchier texture, I opted for panko. And the best tasting panko I’ve found is Ian’s Non-GMO Whole Wheat Panko Breadcrumbs.
Since I lived in Baltimore for five years, it’s obvious that my seasoning of choice with anything fried is Old Bay. In fact, I like the taste of Old Bay so much, I included it in both the flour dredging and the panko breading stages. If you’re not crazy about Old Bay, use the lesser amount suggested in the recipe. (And if you’re worried about sodium, Old Bay now makes a healthier low sodium option.)
While I normally use olive oil in cooking, I’ve been experimenting with different types of organic coconut oil lately, and Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil is the front runner as my favorite brand. It has a captivating aroma and brought a delicious taste to my fried chicken. A lot of carnivores cook fried chicken in lard (a not very healthy saturated fat), so I reasoned that coconut oil, as a much healthier saturated fat, might impart the same kind of mouth feel to the fried dish. If you’re not fond of the taste of coconut oil, try mixing half coconut oil and half organic sunflower and red palm oil. I tried this and thought it was a good tasting combination, with less of the coconut flavor and aroma, that could still stand up to a medium heat.
Pretty darn good, if I do say so myself! Of course, my carnivores, saw me make this dish and we were well aware they weren’t getting chicken from me. But perhaps if you served this to an unsuspecting audience, you just might fool your carnivorous family and friends. . .
Please try it and let me know what you think!
- 2 packages Gardein Chick’n Scallopini
- ¾ cup unbleached white flour (I like King Arthur Organic Unbleached All-Purpose Flour)
- 1 -2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup (or more) Ian’s Non-GMO Whole Wheat Panko Breadcrumbs
- 1-2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 1 cup Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil (or use ½ cup Nutiva organic coconut oil and
- ½ cup Nutiva organic sunflower and red palm oil)
- Put the Gardein Chick’n Scaloppini in the fridge about an hour before you’re going to make the dish to make sure they are thawed just enough to separate easily.
- Get out three shallow bowls to make a "breading station." In the first one, mix the flour, Old Bay, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper.
- In the second bowl, break the eggs, add the Worcestershire sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper and beat lightly.
- In the third bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs and Old Bay.
- Heat the coconut oil (or the coconut, sunflower, and red palm oil combination) in a large skillet on medium heat. Don’t turn the heat high because you don’t want the oil to smoke.
- Dredge each scaloppini in the flour on both sides, and then dip in the eggs, and then into the panko breadcrumbs. Pan fry in the hot oil on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side) until crisp and golden brown.
- Let the fried scaloppini drain on a triple thickness of paper towels and serve. Mashed potatoes with chives, and oven roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and peppers complimented the panko crusted fried chick'n well.
-  Most commercially prepared Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies. If that bother syou, either omit the Worcestershire sauce or use a vegan version like Annie’s Natural Organic Worcestershire Sauce.