I’m pleased to present my signature recipe and technique for creating plant-based jumbo franks which remarkably resemble a classic hot dog texture, color and flavor. Ballparks are high in plant-based protein, low in fat, and with no starch fillers, gels or gums. A food processor is required for this recipe in order to produce the desired texture. Yields 8 jumbo franks.
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- 4 oz/115 grams well-pressed and blotted extra-firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons tamari, soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos
- 2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke)
- ¾ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon commercial poultry seasoning
- ⅛ teaspoon FD&C red food color*
- 270 ml/grams water (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 150 grams (1 cup, scoop and level) vital wheat gluten
*FD&C red food color is an artificial food color. It is not animal sourced. It is used in a scant amount to create the nitrate-pink hot dog coloration since natural red food color pigments degrade during the cooking preparation process (I have experimented a great deal with natural red pigments over the years, and they won’t work for this purpose). Additional paprika (up to 1 teaspoon) can be used to enhance color, if preferred, but will create an orange pigment rather than pink. Red food color can be ordered online or found in the baking section of any supermarket.
Crumble the pressed tofu into the food processor. Add the tamari, oil, onion and garlic powder, paprika, spices and food color.
Add a small quantity of the measured water and process until smooth (if all the water is added at this point it will create excessive splashing). Add the gluten and the remaining measured water and process the mixture for 3 full minutes. Use a timer for accuracy. The dough should be soft, sticky, glossy, stretchy and slightly warm.
Divide into 8 portions, about 80 grams each using a digital scale, and double wrap in pop-up foil (10-inch by 12-inch) or single wrap in cut pieces of heavy-duty foil (10-inch by 12-inch).
To do this, place a portion of dough on the foil and press and stretch the dough into a rough sausage shape about 6-inches long. Don’t worry about shaping perfectly – the foil when do this when rolled and twisted. Roll into a cylinder shape and twist the ends tightly to seal.
Pressure Cooker (e.g., Instant Pot)
1. Add a few cups of water to the bottom of the pressure cooker and place the wrapped dough on a trivet. Pressure-cook on high for 30 minutes.
2. Unplug or turn unit off and set timer for another 30 minutes. During this time the pressure will naturally release. Even if the safety valve pin drops, allow the 30 minutes to complete – do not force the pin down. Open unit and remove the wrapped packages.
3. Allow to cool and then refrigerate in their wrappers until completely chilled until firm before unwrapping and heating and serving. Since the franks are hand-wrapped they will be somewhat rustic in appearance with surface imperfections – but nonetheless delicious.
4. Brown the Ballparks in an oiled, non-stick skillet or oiled grill grate; reheat in a steamer; or gently simmer in enough water to cover. Serve with your favorite condiments.
Conventional Steamer (steamer basket inside cooking pot)
1. Steam over rapidly boiling water for 1 hour. Hot water may need to be added during cooking time to compensate for evaporation. Do not let the pot boil dry!
2. Open pot and remove the wrapped packages. Allow to cool and then refrigerate in their wrappers until completely chilled until firm before unwrapping and heating and serving. Since the franks are hand-wrapped they will be somewhat rustic in appearance with surface imperfections – but nonetheless delicious.
3. Brown the Ballparks in an oiled, non-stick skillet or oiled grill grate; reheat in a steamer; or gently simmer in enough water to cover. Serve with your favorite condiments.