I don’t normally go for vegetarian meat products. Most of these fake meats aren’t very good, and I have actually never felt like I needed any sort of replacement for the meat that is missing from my diet. A simple pasta with marinara or vegetarian soup is a complete meal in my book. However, I have always enjoyed Field Roast, a popular vegetarian meat substitute that is made locally here in Seattle, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, although the products are often formed into sausage and other meat-like shapes, Field Roast isn’t trying to replicate the taste and texture of meat. It is very much its own thing with its own unique flavor. The other reason that I like Field Roast is because it is produced in one of my favorite Seattle neighborhoods: Georgetown. Field Roast is a common sight on the menus of many Georgetown pubs. I can’t get enough of the Field Roast Reuben at Smartypants or Georgetown Liquor Company’s “Picard,” a Field Roast sandwich on a ciabatta roll served with vegan au jus sauce for dipping!

Field Roast Grain Meat Company was founded by Seattle chef David Lee in 1997. Wanting to create a flavorful, protein-rich alternative to meat, Lee looked to a product first developed in seventh century China: seitan. According to legend, seitan was first created by vegetarian Buddhist monks. It is made by kneading wheat flour dough in water until all of the starch dissolves; the stretchy gluten that is left behind is seitan, and it can be used in a myriad of ways (if you have ever had the mock duck at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant, then you have eaten seitan.) Instead of focusing on Asian seasonings, chef Lee flavored his seitan with the European ingredients commonly used in charcuterie. The end result was a unique product that he called Field Roast. Field Roast flavors include Lentil-Sage, Wild Mushroom and Smoked Tomato. It is available in a wide variety of products including sausage links, deli slices, breaded cutlets and the Celebration Loaf: savory field roast stuffed with butternut squash, apples and mushrooms. Vegetarians – do yourself a favor, skip the tofurky this year and treat yourself to a Celebration Loaf instead!

The Stranger, Seattle’s offbeat free weekly, recently did a piece on Field Roast. The author of the article proclaimed Field Roast’s Mexican Chipotle Sausages to be the best of the bunch so I picked up a package at my local co-op last week. I crumbled up two of the links and scrambled them with onions and eggs to use as a filling for breakfast burritos. Robert, a true breakfast burrito aficionado, went crazy for it. He even described the Field Roast as “meaty.” The Mexican Chipotle Field Roast makes a great substitute for chorizo. Like chorizo, it is heavily seasoned with garlic and spices. Make no mistake, it is plenty spicy – I topped my breakfast burritos with red chili but it ended up being completely superfluous. Field Roast’s Mexican Chipotle Sausage would be great anywhere that chorizo is used – empanadas, enchiladas, huevos rancheros, etc. You could even use it to make a spicy “chorizo” pizza. Last night, we stir-fried the rest of our Field Roast and stuffed it into crispy taco shells alongside some fideos for an easy, delicious dinner.

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