Pennsylvania Dutch: A Vegan’s Attempt

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to veganize some classic Pennsylvania Dutch food, just because I thought it would be an interesting challenge because of the sheer un-vegan-ness of it. We’re talking scrapple, chicken pot pie, hogmaw (pig’s stomach), lebanon bologna… As well as some easier things such as chow-chow, cole slaw, apple butter, shoofly pie, whoopie pies, funnel cake, fastnachts, and apple dumplings. Lots of very fatty, very unhealthy comfort food, filled to the brim with lard and any animal part conceivable… the PA Dutch hated to waste anything, so they used everything.

Today I decided I would try my hand at veganizing hot bacon dressing, which (like much of the other food listed) I never touched, even before going vegan. So I really can’t judge the authenticity of this, but luckily my mom was feeling brave enough to try some and let me know how authentic it was. Her verdict: the color was way off (real bacon dressing is white; mine was brown), but the texture was pretty much right on target. The taste was a lot closer than she’d expected, but unfortunately this is where her helpfulness stopped because she couldn’t tell me how it was different and what I might be able to to do make it more authentic. I call that a victory! I never planned on fooling anyone, just wanted to see if it was possible. Mission accomplished.

Hot Tempeh Bacon Dressing

Tempeh Bacon
from Don’t Eat Off the Sidewalk zine, issue 1

1 package of tempeh
3/4 C orange juice
1/4 C soy sauce
1 TBSP liquid smoke
1/4 C water
3 TBSP maple syrup
2 TBSP ketchup
3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

3+ TBSP shortening (I used Crisco for this, because it’s supposed to be an extremely unhealthy food anyway. I mean hell, authentically, you’d be cooking bacon fat in lard.)

Slice the block of tempeh in half widthwise, then slice each half into strips, lengthwise.

In a shallow baking dish, combine the rest of the ingredients through the pepper and whick with a fork to combine. Add the crushed garlic and whisk again. Add the tempeh in a single layer. Marinate for at least an hour and up to overnight, turning them over once to make sure both sides of the tempeh get wet.

When the tempeh is done marinating, heat the shortening in the largest skillet you have over medium  heat. Reserve the marinade. You want a single layer so if your pan is small, you can do this in several batches. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the tempeh to the pan and fry until browned on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. When it’s nice and crispy, add about two tablespoons of the marinade to the pan and gently toss the tempeh to coat. Cook for another minute. Set aside on paper towels to drain.

*I did 2 batches, adding more shortening to the pan in between batches. Since the basis of hot bacon dressing is the bacon fat itself, and tempeh doesn’t really have its own fat, you need to add a lot while cooking… in the form of shortening.

Tempeh Bacon

Hot Bacon Dressing

“bacon fat” (just use what’s in the pan when you make your tempeh bacon, maybe adding about another tablespoon or so of shortening)
About 2/3 of the reserved marinade
1 TBSP cornstarch
4 strips tempeh bacon

Turn down the heat on the stove to low, and carefully add the marinade to the pan. Add the cornstarch and mix well, turning the heat back up to a low medium and continuing to mix until mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and crumble up strips of tempeh bacon into the dressing.

Serve over dandelion greens or endive.


5 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Dutch: A Vegan’s Attempt

  1. Did you ever work out a recipe for vegan lebanon bologna? I’m interested since there are so many vegan sausage recipes out there these days. I grew up in PA, but I live in Korea now.

    1. That’s actually something that never occurred to me, but it definitely seems doable. I’d have to look into it but I’m thinking something similar to a seitan/tofu sausage but play with different flavors! I’ll have to try it out and let you know

  2. Brandon Morgan

    I realize this post is pretty dated now, but i just stumbled upon your blog altogether. I am really interested in a vegan lebanon balogna as well if it’s something you havent got around to yet. I also grew up in PA (and strangely enough also lived in korea), and am probably moving back soon. I love that your blog has so much useful information for vegan things around the area (granted I’d be in harrisburg). Anyway, thanks for your awesome posts and all of your work! Im dying to have lebanon balogna again!

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