Culinary genius and star of Food Network’s “Good Eats,” Alton Brown is the Bill Nye of the cooking world. Knowing the ins and outs and hows and whys of all things edible, when Brown puts Beyond Meat to the test, you know you’re getting the wisest opinion possible. Brown investigated the vegan “chicken” products, and he thinks Beyond Meat is onto something special.
The 51-year-old took a little field trip to the Beyond Meat factory in Columbia, Missouri, and logged the adventure on Wired.com. After taking readers through the factory, he gets down to the mechanics of “meat analogs,” in true “Good Eats” fashion, as well as some background on Ethan Brown (no relation), the founder of Beyond Meat. After his tour of the facility, Brown received a big box of all three varieties of Beyond Meat’s Chicken-Free Strips – Lightly Seasoned, Grilled, and Southwest Style – to put to the test in his Atlanta test kitchen.
Brown and his team of cooks tried the strips in every possible way: cold, heated, pressed, marinated, ground up into nuggets, grilled, and broiled. Their homemade nuggets impressed his 13-year-old meat-eating daughter in that she didn’t bat an eye at the flavor or texture. Considering how picky kids can be with food, this is quite an accomplishment! They found that the strips work well in dishes “where chicken is present but does not sing the lead,” such as tacos, stir fry, cold noodle salads, wraps, and a breakfast hash. Brown shares recipes with his full report for Chicken-Free Stir Fry and Chicken-Free Sweet Potato Hash.
Beyond reasons of taste for eating Beyond Meat, Brown even talked about the other benefits of embracing animal-free meats, from animal welfare to environmental impact. Although Brown is a meat-eater, he acknowledges the horrors of factory farming for chickens (cramped quarters, non-stop force-feeding of antibiotics, cut beaks) and our planet (high water use, methane emissions, “toxic sludge” poisoning the land).
“If you could consume a product that tasted and chewed like chicken in, say, half of your at-home or restaurant meals, would you? And what if that product delivered healthy protein with no antibiotics, cholesterol, trans fats, or saturated fat, yet required only a fraction of the resources to produce while creating little waste or environmental risks? Why wouldn’t you?” he ponders in the article.
Brown also thinks the possibilities for Beyond Meat are limitless.
“In the end, what’s really interesting about Beyond Meat is what’s beyond the not-chicken,” he writes. “Predictably, the company is working on a beef analog. But why stop there? Once you liberate the idea of flavorful protein from actual animals, the whole idea of food acquires a certain flexibility. Given the right ingredients and the right texturizing technology you could produce not-shrimp for people with shellfish allergies or not-bacon for pork-abstaining Jews and Muslims… In fact, you could make protein that tastes like something even better than meat or like something entirely new.”
And wouldn’t that pave the way for a better future? Possibly… and hopefully.
Read Alton Brown’s interesting full report here on Wired.com.
Photo credit: Beyond Meat