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December 7, 2022

Tofurky or Turkey This Year?

Last week I had the pleasure of greeting the guests at the Donor’s Gala held at the new Performing Arts Center in Scott’s Valley. Not only did I welcome the guests in, but I did my best to wish each and everyone a Happy Thanksgiving on their way out. “Don’t burn the turkey” I said to Aimee and Michael McNally of Scotts Valley, who replied: “we won’t, we are baking a Tofurky, not a Turkey.”

After a brief conversation with the McNally’s, I realized they weren’t ‘pulling my leg’, but they have been baking a Tofurky for the last 25 years.

Imagine, the McNally’s have saved the lives of a small ‘flock’ of turkeys, while my family, on the other hand have done just the opposite.

Statistics show that in the U.S. today, 10% of the population are practicing Vegans or Vegetarians for health, ethics, environmentalism or religion purposes.

The faux store-bought Tofurkeys are generally packed with protein thanks to their soy content, just as much as the actual bird itself. However, like other frozen food items, they are loaded with sodium and carbohydrates derived from the wheat gluten incorporated.

It was in 1995 that Oregon-based brand Tofurky began selling the roast by the same name and it was shortly after, the McNally family began making their own recipe for Tofurky.

Today, the healthiest on the market is the brand Gardein’s Savory Stuffed Turkey 2 lbs. For $16.99. This brand is available through Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s Markets.

If you want to make your own Tofurky, The Spruce Eats online has a recipe or simply follow Aimee McNally’s recipe below for a time-proven successful recipe.

Whichever you, dear Readers, decide upon, from my kitchen to yours, have a memorable and Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Aimee McNally’s Tofurky Recipe

Equipment Needed

  • Colander
  • Cheesecloth Three thickness
  • Large Bowl
  • Heavyweight (large can of unopened vegetable or fruit)
  • Large oven-to-table casserole dish

Ingredients

  • 4 16oz. tubs extra-firm tofu 
  • 2 tsp. ground thyme
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 6oz. package vegetarian stuffing
  • ¼ to ½ cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. sesame oil

The night before:

  1. Let three tubs of tofu come to room temperature. 
  2. With hands, squeeze tofu into small pieces while mixing in thyme, sage and onion powder.
  3. Dampen cheesecloth line it in colander with edges hanging over and no wrinkles. 
  4. Dump in Tofu and press it hard onto sides and bottom to keep it draining, making a bowl within a bowl. Sides and bottom should be one inch thick and one inch from the top of the colander.
  5. Find a bowl that will fit inside tofu bowl and place into tofu.  Add a weight such as a large can of fruit into bowl.
  6. Bring up edges of cheesecloth to cover tofu.  
  7. Stand colander over a bowl to drain overnight.

The day of:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Prepare stuffing according to package directions.
  3. Remove bowl and weight. 
  4. Fill tofu hollow with stuffing.  
  5. Crumble remaining one tub of tofu (which you have quickly pressed and drained) over top of stuffing, pressing flat to cover to the edge of the colander.
  6. Place the casserole dish over colander while praying to the gods of all good cooks, and invert carefully.  Remove dish and cheesecloth to reveal half of a basketball.  
  7. Combine tamari, olive oil and sesame oil in a bowl and baste Tofurky. 
  8. Bake 15 minutes and baste again.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 1 hour.

To serve, cut Tofurky once through the middle and then each half into one-and-a-half-inch slices.  

Aimee serves the Tofurky with a mushroom gravy.


Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].

Colly Gruczelak
Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected]

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