Rachael Ray's recipe for Chicken, Biscuits 'n' Gravy Casserole is...sniff...just heavenly. Truly.
I am currently fifteen days off of meat and dairy, and all of the websites I visit suggest I "cook what is familiar." And so I decided to do just that. How different could it taste, anyway? I would simply omit the chicken and make a few minor substitutions:
Cow's milk = Rice milk
Cheddar cheese = Vegan cheddar cheese
Chicken stock = Vegetable broth
Butter = Earth Balance "buttery spread"
White flour = whole wheat pastry flour (the only whole wheat-y thing I had on hand)
I worked furiously, my hopes higher than high. As the gravy mixture began to waft up to my nostrils, however, my hopes slowly began to deflate. I could really smell that rice milk, and it didn't seem to blend well with the veggies. All the same, I popped the casserole into the oven and waited.
The consistency of that vegan cheddar kind of gives me the willies. I reflected on this as I waited for my casserole to bake. (Stay positive, goddammit! It's time to baste the biscuits with the garlic butter buttery spread!)
Reader, I'd like to tell you my Tuesday night experiment was a glittering triumph; that I polished off half the pan, the way I always used to. In reality, this dish...made me weep. And not in a good way. Hubby came over and sat down next to me, having just eaten a BBQ chicken sandwich, and brushed a tear from my cheek. It was the rice milk, he suggested, or perhaps the vegetable broth; we'd buy a different brand next time. It would be okay.
For a moment I remained inconsolable. "I just miss...my flavors." I do, indeed. Everything is so unfamiliar. Giving up the meat was hard enough without also forgoing milk, butter, eggs and cheese. Faced with this challenge, one has to be creative, one has to be brave. One has to try new things. Doesn't one?
In any case, I could only force down a few bites. When you adore food as much as I do, cooking familiar things in an unfamiliar fashion is downright painful. It sure looked pretty, though.