Beet this Sausage: Vegan Charcuterie Graduates from Yale

By D. J. Costantino

By

D. J. Costantino
Beet Sausage, French Lentils, Squash Rillettes, and Vegan Feta Crumble
Beet Sausage, French Lentils, Squash Rillettes, and Vegan Feta Crumble

Challenged by the rainbow of dietary preferences of Yale University’s colorful student body, David Kuzma, executive chef of Yale’s School of Management, wanted to prepare vegan-friendly dishes that didn’t compromise on quality or flavor. By constantly experimenting and tweaking methods and recipes (there were at least 12 iterations), Kuzma developed a vegan charcuterie course that would make the most carnivorous Yalie salivate. He presented his findings at StarChefs 11th Annual International Chefs Congress for the EAT@ICC Alt Protein lunch.

“Chefs are afraid of vegetarians,” says Kuzma, “We took extra special care to make them feel as special as the other diners.” Here’s how:

Kuzma makes a beet sausage using caramelized beets and okara flour. A fiber-packed byproduct of tofu making, okara is made from the strained pulp of soy milk that’s dried and ground into a powder. It turns out that the fat and protein content of okara is nearly indistinguishable from that of pork shoulder.

To mimic the marbled fat of a soppressata, as well as a characteristic fermented note, Kuzma adds chopped pickled beets and turnips. Coriander, fennel, smoked paprika, shallots, garlic, nutritional yeast, and Sherry vinegar round out the Merguez-inspired flavor profile. A mixture of agar agar and a reduction of beet cooking liquid also amp up the sausage-y texture, which sets when the “force meat” is rolled and wrapped tightly in plastic and chilled for an hour in an ice bath.

For dinners and parties, Kuzma slices the charcuterie and serves it alongside roasted butternut squash “rillettes,” black lentils, and a “feta” crumble comprised of nutritional yeast and sunflower and hemp seeds—all to be scooped up with crispy papadums. It’s a beautifully composed, umamified, healthful charcuterie plate that would be at home in any fine-dining restaurant. You just have to get into Yale School of Management to try it. 

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