I’m one of those people always trying to build a better mousetrap. (Perhaps that’s not the best metaphor for a vegetarian cooking blog!) No matter how tasty a dish is, I ask myself (and, yes, I do this audibly), ” What would make this recipe even better?”
Years ago, while still a carnivore, I made chicken sandwiches encased in crescent rolls (called Savory Crescent Chicken Squares), using a recipe I found in one of those ladies club cookbooks. (By the way, that genre of cookbook generally has the BEST recipes!) But when I said ‘goodbye’ to meat, I also had to bid a fond farewell to some fabulous recipes, including those tasty chicken sandwiches.
Then I discovered (drum roll, please): IMITATION MEATS!!! I revisited my old carnivore recipes, adapting them to my vegetarian lifestyle.
Obviously, the first thing to change in the chicken sandwich recipe is Chicken to “Chicken”. Do you see the quotation marks? That’s my special code for fake (aka, imitation …or faux – for you posh people) Newbies often cringe, asking, ‘What’s in it?’ (Oddly enough, these same people will eat salami, hot dogs, and sausage.) Well, there are MANY fake meat products, so there’s no quick answer – you’ll just have to check the ingredients list on the packages. But I assure you, there isn’t anything inedible or weird.
That being said, imitation meats are a processed food. Like any processed food, I don’t believe they should be eaten everyday. I permit myself two meals per week in which some sort of fake meat is used. For me, these foods serve two functions. One, they’ve vastly expanded my vegetarian recipe repertoire. And, two, they talk me off the ledge when I’m tempted by a KFC or Burger King commercial.
The original chicken sandwich recipe used real chicken, canned crescent rolls, store-bought cream cheese, onions, diced pimento, and was topped with crushed croutons. I put on my thinking cap, rolled up my sleeves, and began the arduous process of refining that mousetrap.
Being the compulsive person I am (some might think that’s an understatement) I decided to make the crescent rolls from scratch. Then I figured I may as well make the cream cheese, too. Yes, this added to the amount of work, but I like to know what’s in my food. Of course, you can purchase said items, if you like, but I encourage you to give them a try.
The next thing to tackle was modifying the filling to make a more flavorful sandwich – it was a little bland for my taste. I felt it needed something sweet, so I added pineapple. Dried pineapple worked best – fresh made the sandwich too soggy. Then the diced pimentos were increased to add more color and seasoning. A little crunch was needed, so I threw in chopped celery and toasted slivered almonds. The last task was to swap the crushed crouton topping for shredded asiago cheese.
By the time I was done revamping the original chicken sandwich, the only thing remaining of the recipe was the idea: a chicken sandwich encased in a crescent roll.
A big THANK YOU to my family for not complaining about the numerous meals of “Chicken” Crescent Sandwiches as my recipe evolved. There was a lot of trial and error.
Here’s a picture of my preferred fake chicken for this recipe:
It’s made by Worthington, comes frozen, weighs 4 pounds, and appears pricey (about $26.00) until you realize that it cuts up to 18 cups cubed. When I haul (and I mean haul) these rolls home, I let them thaw just enough so I can cut them into meal sized pieces. Then I refreeze them.
Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, taste is in the mouth of the diner. You may not like the brand I suggest. That’s fine. My feelings won’t be hurt if you use a different product. As always, I encourage you to tweak recipes to suit your own preference.
“CHICKEN” CRESCENT SANDWICHES – makes 24 small sandwiches
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup milk (I used nonfat)
- 2¼ tsp dry active yeast (1 packet)
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 3½-4 cups all purpose flour
Heat the milk and water to 104ºF. Stir in the yeast and set aside to proof (about 5 minutes).
Into your food processor put 3 cups of the flour, the butter, sugar, salt, and egg. When the yeast is proofed, turn on food processor and slowly pour in the yeast liquid through the pour spout. Add more flour in small increments until the dough forms a ball. Let the machine run for 45 seconds to knead. Remove the dough and press into a greased bowl. Flip the dough and press down again. Cover and let rise 1 hour.
- 2½ cups “chicken”, cubed
- 4 oz jar diced pimentos
- ½ tsp dried dill
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried minced onion
- ¼ tsp garlic salt
- 2/3 cup celery, chopped
- ½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
- 4 dehydrated pineapple rings, chopped
- 1 cup cream cheese (to make it click on How To Make Cream Cheese)
Mix all filling ingredients together.
NOTE: Dried cranberries would make a yummy substitution or addition to the pineapple rings.
To assemble sandwiches:
Cut crescent roll dough into 24 pieces. One by one, roll each piece into a circle approximately 4″ in diameter. Place ½ cup of filling on one side of circle. Run a wet finger along the rim of the dough, fold the dough in half to encase filling, then press the edges together with a fork. Place on a greased cookie sheet.
Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.
Once they’re all assembled, brush the tops with milk and sprinkle on asiago cheese.
Bake at 350º F for 23 minutes, until golden brown.