Allow me to introduce one of the best vegan meat substitutes around: Match.
Match Foods is a St. Louis based (seriously!) producer of premium meat alternatives – or as they say, “a gourmet-quality vegan match for animal meat.” Like pretty much all meat substitutes, Match products are free of saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones and antibiotics. What’s more, the ingredients lists for Match meats are short and readable. Oh, and also: they taste like the “real” thing. No sh#t.
I was first introduced to Match a few years ago at the Schlafly Tap Room. At the time, their “veggie” burger was Match, which was specified on the menu. Once our food came out, Andy and I were both so convinced by the look, taste and texture of my burger that we were sure I’d been mistakenly given a real beef patty. We actually tried to send it back, but were repeatedly assured by our waiter that it wasn’t real meat. I remained skeptical until I bought my first pound of Match Ground Beef and recreated the same shockingly “real” burger at home.
I’ve since used nearly every product (I can’t quite find a use for crab) Match makes in countless recipes. What I love about Match meats – and what makes them so different from my other fave, Gardein – is that they’re totally blank slates. They’re sold by the pound in frozen blocks. The only limit to how you can use them is your imagination (or your cooking skills)!
Obviously, for burgers on the grill these are my top choice. Just as if you were using ground beef, you can season however you like (I typically use Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or vegan worcestershire, fresh ground pepper and sea salt) and form patties as big or as small as you want. I also commonly use Match ground beef in classic recipes for things like lasagna and dirty rice. Anytime I’m grilling or cooking something from scratch that requires a meat substitute for non-vegans, I use Match. If they weren’t eating at my house, I doubt they’d know it was a decoy.
In addition to ground beef, Match also makes substitutes for ground pork, Italian sausage, breakfast sausage, crab and ground chicken. As I said, I’ve used almost all of them and I can vouch for their basic awesomeness across the board. Around St. Louis, you can find Match products at Whole Foods and Dierberg’s. I believe Whole Foods also carries them at most locations nationwide, but there is a product locator on their site that will tell you exactly where you can find them near you.
Aside from the product locator, you’ll also find loads of delicious recipes and helpful prep tips on the Match site. My own tip: don’t let it thaw completely before you start working with it. When totally defrosted, Match is sticky. If it’s just thawed enough to be pliable, it’s much easier to handle.
So now that you’re in the know, I plan to make it super easy for you to get started using Match in your kitchen by posting recipes that feature Match meats for the rest of the week! If you give one of them a shot, let me know what you think! I suspect your taste buds will be pleased.