Once upon a time, I ran out of bacon bits. I know what you’re thinking. Bacon bits? Really? Blame it on my thick Midwestern blood, but I’ve been known to shake them onto mashed potatoes, baked beans, and straight into my mouth. I ain’t ashamed.
Anyway, out into the city I ventured in search of salty, smoky goodness. When I arrived at the nearest grocery store, I located the placeholder for bacon bits. The. Shelf. Was. Empty. What kind of self-respecting American supermarket is ever out of bacon bits?! Seriously. Enter Plan B: the co-op around the corner from my apartment. Oh wait, what’s that? Twelve dollars a pound for the most ubiquitous, devoid-of-nutrition food on the planet that’s probably going to give me cancer anyway? For real? Before we know it, we’re going to be switching to bacon bits as our national currency. I visibly recoiled and returned home empty-handed.
One thing I often notice in vegan cooking is that, in veganizing traditional American foods, many vegans substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones. This is all fine and well, and if health factors heavily into why you’re a vegan, good for you! However, I sometimes find that veganized recipes miss the mark (for omnivorous tastebuds) because they’re trying to reinvent the wheel.
Case in point: bacon bits. I’ve seen a few recipes around the Web that call for soy sauce and maple syrup. Seriously, y’all, would the average purveyor of the Standard American Diet ever think to add such frou-frou ingredients to anything? Not a chance.
Skepticism aside, I figured I’d give the frou-frou version the old college try, and compare it side-by-side with a recipe that only a cheap American manufacturer would come up with.
And the winner? While the fancier version was flavorful, in terms of imitating the actual flavor of standard store-bought bacon bits, the probably radioactive version won by a long shot. So here you have it:
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp boiling water
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- 2-4 drops red food coloring
- ½ c dry tvp granules
- Whisk together the salt and water, until salt is fully dissolved.
- Add liquid smoke and food coloring and mix.
- Add tvp and stir well to distribute liquid evenly, until all liquid has been absorbed.
- Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 250°, stirring frequently to prevent burning, for 15 minutes or until fully dehydrated and crispy.
- Allow to cool fully and store in an airtight container.