Before I start, I am not being paid in any way for this blog entry, I genuinely like Quorn a lot (I also like other meat substitutes). Now that’s over and done with…
Quorn… what is it? It’s a (sometimes) tasty alternative to meat. But if you want to be more specific and sciency, he is what Wikipedia has to say about it…
“Quorn is the leading brand of mycoprotein food product in the UK and Ireland. The mycoprotein used to produce Quorn is extracted from a fungus,Fusarium venenatum, which is grown in large vats.
Quorn is produced as both a cooking ingredient and a range of ready meals. It is sold (largely in Europe, but also in other parts of the world) as a health food and an alternative to meat, earning the Vegetarian Society‘s seal of approval. As it uses egg white as a binder, it is not a vegan food.” LINK HERE
I’m keen to tell people about Quorn because some people seem a little scared of it, but it has many benefits…
- It is naturally low in fat, saturated fat and low in calories
- Quorn mince has 75% less fat than lean beef mince
- It is high in protein
- It contains all the amino acids that you’d find in beef and chicken and
- The mince and pieces contain zero cholesterol
So there we have it. Now on to the good stuff. Some people find it quite tricky to cook with, some people are just looking for an excuse to try it and some people are not entirely sure what to do with it. So here’s a little guide on the bits and bobs I’ve tried so far and if it inspires even one person to give it a go, i’ll consider it a success.
[all photos taken from the Quorn website]
Light Bites in spicy and roast flavour. These are brand new to Quorn and I found them in Waitrose. I picked them up because I’ve started to count calories and I was looking for snacks that come in at less than 100 calories. The spicy flavour are 86 calories and the roast flavour are 88.
The bag contains a good amount of the product and are actually quite tasty. When I ate meat I was never too fond of “meat snacks” but these are not too bad. The spicy one is disappointing purely because it’s not spicy. It is tasty, but if something is labelled as spicy it should be. The texture is moist and they are very filling. I also put a packet in a sandwich with some light salad cream a few weeks ago and it worked quite nicely. The roast flavour doesn’t taste all that different and certainly doesn’t taste like roast chicken, which I think is what Quorn are trying to achieve here. However, in its own right, it’s nice.
Sausages. These are lovely. They have a firm texture, unlike some other soya based sausages that can be a bit flakey. I cook mine in the oven, be careful not to over cook them because they can become very dry and wood-like. They are lovely soaked in gravy or made into a sausage casserole. They also make a good sausage sandwich, cold or hot. Again, do not over cook them because they really could put you off for life if you’ve not had them before!
I think they are pretty easy to get from most of the supermarkets. 70 calories per sausage.
FROZEN mince. I wrote FROZEN in capitals because that is what we’re talking about here. The fresh mince is very different, in my opinion, so here is what I have to say about the frozen mince.
It’s fabulous. I love it. If I were to ever eat mince again, there is no reason why I would go back to using meat mince in my spaghetti bolognese, shepherd’s pie, cottage pie, chilli con carne or tacos. It is so easy to cook, there is no fat in it to solidify when it goes cold and I really like the texture. Okay, it doesn’t offer a huge beefy flavour to a dish but I don’t really want that in my spaghetti bolognese or chilli and I add Bisto to my shepherd’s and cottage pies.
I’ve cooked this for meat eaters and they are perfectly happy to eat it. I still cook meat for my boyfriend but he has never complained about eating Quorn mince. It cooks so quickly, too, which is brilliant for when you need to cook after work. It makes brilliant Tacos when paired with an Old El Paso taco sachet.
94 calories per 100g.
Mini savoury eggs. These are perfect for picnics and are really quite nice. I didn’t really like Scotch eggs in my past life because I always found the pork to be low quality or just of an odd texture (pork was my favourite food before I became vegetarian!) but these have a lovely texture and are ready to eat from the packet, so are great for a snack on the go. They are 63 calories per egg, so you can’t eat a whole packet but they really do hit the spot if you want something savoury.
Sausage rolls. These are another must for a picnic. Be aware though, the packet says that it contains 12 mini sausage rolls but they are actually joined in twos, so really you get 6 medium/small sausage rolls. They are really nice when cold and are a welcome addition to a picnic. Another item that meat eaters don’t seem to mind eating. 48 calories per sausage roll (but if you do cut them in “half” they are really tiny).
The pastry on these is really nice and the Quorn is seasoned really nicely too. You also don’t get that greasiness that I remember from cold meat sausage rolls.
Chicken style pieces. These took a while for me to get used to. They can be a little bland but you just have to experiment in how you cook them. They are especially nice in curries when teamed up with some chunky mushrooms or peppers and this is what I mostly use them for. This week I also cooked them with some red wine and made a sort of mock coq-au-vin. It was a success but no where near as nice as with real meat. This is another one that can get really dry if over cooked. I’ve started adding a bit of water when cooking mine to make sure that the pieces are quite succulent. I’m not sure this product is for everyone, I’d rather have some fresh mushrooms in my curry sometimes, but they are a good enough substitute when some texture is needed. Can also be used to make sweet and sour, fajitas, and pretty much anything you would usually use chunks of chicken for. 100g = 107 calories.
Swedish style balls. These are one of my all time favourite Quorn products. They are really easy to cook and taste really good. They are brilliant in spaghetti and meatballs and even better when made into a spicy calzone. The website recommends making them into kebabs by putting them on skewers, I’ve never tried this but I certainly will do now! I highly recommend trying a calzone recipe with them though because this is the reason that I rate them so highly.
What I do, is make some pizza dough and whilst it is rising, cook the Quorn balls in a pan with some garlic, lots of chilli, some passata, Italian herbs, etc and then make the pizza dough into a circle. Spoon the balls and sauce into one half of it, add some fresh basil and uncooked mozzarella and then fold the dough over and sort of crimp around the edges to seal it. You then stick it in the oven until the dough is cooked.
It’s a beautiful dish, so please let me know if you give it a go!
102 calories per 100g (for the balls on their own).
Lamb style grills. 97 calories per grill. These aren’t my favourite of the Quorn products but they are still nice. They make a change. They can also dry out so you need to be careful not to over cook them but they are nice drowned in some Bisto gravy. There is a strong mint flavour in these which is actually quite nice and whether or not they taste like lamb or not, I’m not sure. I think your head just thinks of lamb because there is mint there. They are quite a dark Quorn too.
Deli bacon! This is the frozen bacon (I don’t like the fresh one, sorry) and it’s wonderful stuff. I like it more than I ever liked real bacon. It looks very alien; it is pink and square and you won’t find any mock rind like you will find on some other mock bacons, but it’s has just the right flavour. It is really nice in between two bits of seeded bread with a dollop of ketchup and it takes a minute or so on each side to cook. It’s the only veggie bacon that I’ve ever liked and I do recommend it to anyone missing bacon. It is also really nice when chopped up and added to things to give a bit of a smoky taste. It’s nice added to cheese sauce and pasta or put on top of cheese stuffed mushrooms. I give this one 5/5. The only problem is that it’s never that easy to find, it seems to come and go and I can go months without it sometimes.
199 calories per 100g.
Deli ham. Another “ok” product. I’m not mad on it and it won’t replace real ham but it’s alright. It makes an okay cheese and “ham”, salad sandwich but that’s about it. I’m not a big sandwich person anyway and as that’s all you can do with it, it might be the reason I’m not too interested in it. It doesn’t look like ham, it doesn’t taste like ham, it doesn’t feel like ham but I suppose it fills a gap. Widely available. 110 calories per 100g.
Tikka sliced fillets. These are quite juicy and the spicy stuff on them is really tasty. This is the sort of coating that should be on the bites, in my opinion. These are nice when used in baps, wraps, on baked potatoes, in salads, just to nibble on occasionally, etc. They can be eaten straight from the packet so are quite handy to have around. 69 calories for half a pack, not too bad!
Garlic and herb fillets. 205 calories per fillet. These are quite nice. They are chicken style fillets in a garlic and herb crumb coating. They cook in the oven quite quickly and don’t dry out as much as the non-crumbed fillets, etc. They are nice served with a salad or some new potatoes, I especially like a bit of Heinz spaghetti with them. They can also make a nice chicken burger if you put one in a granary bun with some mayonnaise and salad and a slice of cheese. Easy to find in most freezer sections in the supermarket.
Quorn beef style and red onion burgers. These are one of my favourite products. They are fresh, not frozen and cook in a jiffy. You can cook them in a pan or in the oven and either way they are delicious. I don’t miss beef burgers when I have these in the house. The red onion gives the burger a sweetness and the flavours are really nicely balanced. These ones have a unique texture which I think comes from them being fresh and if you put them in a bun with some fresh red onion rings, lettuce, mayo, chilli sauce, cheese or whatever, I think even the meat eaters would be impressed. 97 calories per burger.
Mozzarella and pesto escalopes. These are quite high in calories at 260 per escalope but I suppose you’re getting crumb, mozzarella and pesto in there. They are quite tasty. The website says that they are only available in Sainsbury’s or Waitrose which explains why I’ve not seen them a lot. These are nice and quick when shoved in the oven and when paired with a salad and a baked potato or something, are really not too bad. Not my favourite product but there’s certainly a place for them on occasion.
Lemon and black pepper escalopes. They are what they say on the tin… or packet. They are nice and lemony and can be served in the same way as all the other escalopes and grills. They are my favourite of all of them because I like the lemon pepperiness and they are quick to cook and can be teamed up with pretty much anything. 249 calories per escalope (quite high when you consider you’re not getting a pouch of mozzarella and pesto).
Southern style burgers. 119 calories per burger. I would give these a 3/5. They aren’t spectacular but again, they fill a chicken burger shaped void. They have a nice seasoning in the crumb coating and work well in a wholemeal bun with some salad and tomato relish. Not much else I can say really, they are what they are!
Sweet chilli stir fry strips. I don’t like these. They are sticky and the sweet chilli sauce has an odd texture. I love sweet chilli sauce but these aren’t for me. I would rather have a vegetable stir fry than add these. I can’t really put my finger on it but they are too sweet, the texture is odd and… I don’t know. I won’t be buying these again. 141 calories per 100g. The website says they are only available in Sainsbury’s but I don’t shop there and I’ve seen them numerous times and purchased them twice.
Peppered steaks. These are another of my favourites. You won’t be fooling any meat eaters with them and they are nothing like steak (which I loved before I became veggie) but they are nice in their own right. There’s a nice peppery stuff on the outside and they are nice with chips and salad. 107 calories per steak.
Sweet and sour crispy bites. The nutritional values are not on the website for these but I can’t imagine they are the best. They are in a batter instead of a crumb coating (which, in my opinion makes them better) and the sweet chilli sauce is rather tasty. They have a good texture and are quite similar to a good chicken nugget. 5/5 for these.
Fillets. I do not like these. Nope. I don’t like the taste, I don’t like the texture and I don’t even like how they look. I’ve tried them twice to make sure that I don’t like them and both times they were dry, chewy and just plain weird. It’s like Quorn have taken a step back in time and this was the first Quorn product available. If this was someone’s first experience of Quorn I can imagine they wouldn’t try it again. Not a fan.
94 calories for 2 fillets.
So that it from me, that’s everything that I’ve tried to date. If I add anything I will let you know (there are a few products I have my eye on).
I hope this will encourage you to at least give Quorn a go.