Welcome back to Chef in the Kitchen, a recurring Eater photo feature where we boldly go where few diners have gone before — into Portland restaurant kitchens — to get a sneak peek of the chef du jour hard at work.
Take an unsuspecting diner to chef Aaron Adams' sustainable trattoria Portobello Vegan, and they may not recognize that the entire menu — pizzas, pastas, grilled mushrooms — is meat- and dairy-free. Adams' spicy seitan sausage (which tops the Spicy Arrabiata pizza) mirrors the meaty version in texture, with fennel and red pepper flakes bringing the flavor to what's essentially a sausage-shaped dough.
In a standing mixer bowl, Adams combines his dry ingredients (vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, crushed toasted fennel seeds, pepper flakes, and chopped oregano and basil), before adding a wet mixture of dry white wine, olive oil, and Portobello's house-made vegetable stock. After kneading the dough on a wood board for a couple of minutes, Aaron separates the mixture into four equal portions, rolling each into a sausage shape and tightly wrapping the dough in greased foil. The sausages are baked for 25 minutes and allowed to cool for another 20 before they're wrapped in plastic and hit the cooler until use.
According to Adams, his seitan experiments are just getting started: A new menu rolling out this week will feature braised seitan, which "reminds me of shortribs," Adams says. "I finally figured out how to (A) make seitan taste good and (B) make vegan demi-glace actually have some depth."
· Portobello Vegan Trattoria [Official site]
· All Previous Portobello Coverage [Eater PDX]