♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Today on "America's Test Kitchen," Becky makes Bridget a hearty cauliflower and bean paella, Jack challenges Julia to a taste test of meat-free burgers, Lisa reviews cutting-board stabilizers, and Elle makes Julia vegan Baja-style cauliflower tacos.
It's all coming up right here on "America's Test Kitchen."
♪♪ -Today we are making paella de verduras, which is a vegetable-centric paella that comes from Valencia, Spain.
And as Becky is going to show us, it really is all about pulling those vegetables to the front of the recipe, right?
We're going to really showcase those vegetables.
Instead of using them to just flavor the rice, they're going to take center stage, and we'll come up with something that is just as satisfying, just as eye-catching as a protein version.
-You can make this with a whole lot of vegetables, but we're going to start with cauliflower.
-Has a really nice, nutty taste and sort of a crisp, creamy density when it's cooked.
-It's really satisfying to eat.
We're going to start by heating up the skillet here.
I have 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and I'm going to do some medium heat.
And paella's traditionally cooked over a live fire on a paellera... -Mm-hmm.
-...which is a wide, shallow skillet, but it's also very common to see stovetop versions.
-So we need 2 1/2-inch-to-2-inch pieces.
I like to just kind of dive in there with my fingers.
-Stalks and florets?
-Yeah, just a little bit of the stalk.
We're going to leave most of the stalk behind here for this recipe 'cause we're really going for something that's superattractive.
And if they're hard to pull off, you can just use a little paring knife here.
-Yeah, sometimes they just don't want to leave that stalk.
They don't want to go in my paella.
I don't know why.
-[ Laughs ] -Going to be delicious in there.
So we're going for 2 1/2 cups here, and the pieces can be 2 inches to 2 1/2 inches, like that.
So they really are quite large.
-Nice and chunky here.
So we'll call that 1 cup.
We'll get these in.
We need one more cup.
[ Sizzling ] -1/4 teaspoon of salt just to flavor those guys up a little bit.
-And now we want the cauliflower to get spotty brown.
That's going to take three to five minutes.
So it's been five minutes.
Isn't it gorgeous already?
-It is gorgeous already.
-Really nice browning.
-That's the whole paella.
-[ Laughs ] Ta-da!
-[ Laughs ] -Bon appétit.
Now we're going to be adding some beans, and Valencians would typically add two types of beans to this recipe.
They would add the bajoqueta, which is a flat, fresh green bean kind of like a Romano bean.
-And they would add a garrofón, which is a fresh shell bean.
Now, those are hyperregional varieties, and we can't find them around here, so we found some nice substitutes... -Alright.
-...starting with good old conventional green beans.
Can't go wrong.
-[ Chuckles ] In they go.
That's 6 ounces, and they're cut in 2-to-2 1/2-inch pieces.
-And add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to season those guys up a little bit.
And we're going to let this go for another two to four minutes, just until the green beans start to turn dark green.
-Really developing flavor here.
So, it's been like three minutes.
The green beans have started to do their thing.
They're getting darker and a little bit of browning.
Let's transfer them to a bowl here.
They can hang out till the next phase.
Now I have another 1 1/2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Now we're going to build a sofrito.
This is where we really start to get in all that layered flavor that makes it so good.
And we're going to start with one red bell pepper.
-That is finely chopped.
-Yeah, it's nice and chopped.
[ Sizzling ] Still medium heat here.
I'm also going to add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Season that up.
And we'll just let this sizzle here for about seven minutes.
-And we're looking for a little color?
-Little bit of browning on the pepper.
The flavors just keep adding up in here.
-It's been about seven minutes.
You can see they're nicely browned here.
So let's start by adding a tablespoon of tomato paste, and we're going to cook that for about a minute.
We just want the pepper pieces to get nicely coated here, and that adds really nice umami depth.
to the sofrito.
So here is three garlic cloves minced up... 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
-Another magic ingredient.
And 1/4 teaspoon of saffron.
-And that just adds that beautiful golden color.
-And that's the whole paycheck.
-[ Laughs ] It's worth it.
[ Laughs ] -[ Laughs ] -My treat.
[ Laughs ] So just for 30 seconds here, until we start to smell that aroma, which I do.
That smell is our cue that it's time to keep moving here.
This is 1/4 cup of dry sherry.
[ Sizzling ] Just want to cook that until all the excess moisture evaporates.
All of our moisture is just about evaporating, so now it's finally time for the rice.
So, a cup of rice.
You can use Calasparra or bomba.
Both are really nice Spanish rices.
-If you can't find those, it's also okay to use Arborio.
-Now we're just going to stir this for one or two minutes.
We want all those grains of rice to get nicely coated in that beautiful sofrito.
So now we're going to smooth out that rice in a nice, even layer.
And now we have butter beans that are going to go on top.
This is our second bean.
Remember I mentioned we had the green beans?
-And now this is one can of butter beans that's been drained.
You really want to seek out these butter beans.
Their size is perfect for this.
You don't want to use small white beans here.
-You're going for another ingredient, like the cauliflower, that is toothsome and meaty.
-We want some decent-sized pieces here.
We're not fooling around.
This is, like, the real deal.
[ Both chuckle] Alright.
So, there's our butter beans, and now here's the cauliflower and the green beans that we prepared.
Use my hands 'cause I want these to be nicely scattered.
-Well, it's really interesting how you're layering everything on top of each other.
So now I have 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth.
Just going to gently pour that in.
If you want to make this purely vegetarian, it's fine to use a vegetable broth here, too.
So, we want the rice to be completely submerged here.
I'm going to turn up the heat, bring this up to a boil, and then I'll lower the heat and we'll let this simmer until the liquid is just below the top of the rice.
So it's been about 15 minutes, and you can see we're starting to see the rice here kind of poke through that liquid.
So we're just going to pop a lid on for five minutes, and we're going to finish cooking that rice all the way through.
-This is a very fast-cooking paella.
It's been five minutes, and you can see our rice is cooked through, -Mmm.
So, that steaming also cooked the vegetables through, right?
Everything is going to be just perfecto here.
Now we're going to let it go for another five to seven minutes.
We want all of the moisture to evaporate, and we want to start to hear some popping and sizzling.
That's going to indicate that the rice on the bottom of the skillet is starting to brown a little bit.
-That is the best part.
-Yeah, I agree.
We are just about done here now.
We're just going to make that socarrat, which is the crispy layer of browned rice and the browned proteins and sugars from the cooking liquid that forms on the bottom of skillet.
-It is one of the most important parts of a paella.
So, I finished up that socarrat by rotating the pan 1/4 turn for every 20 seconds for about five minutes, till it got nice and crusty on the bottom.
-Then I slid it off the heat to let it cool down just for five minutes.
That's important because the starches in the rice are flexible when they're hot, so when they cool down, they crystallize.
They become a little bit more rigid, and that makes the rice nice and crisp and easy to release from the pan.
Let's just hang on a second.
-This is so vibrant and beautiful.
This is a centerpiece.
-It really is.
It really is a nice-looking dish.
-It's gorgeous -Yeah.
It's going to taste just as good as it looks.
-Ah, you can see that little bit -- the browning of the rice there.
-That's our socarrat.
That's what we're talking about.
You want some of that beautiful cauliflower?
-Well, first things first.
-Getting that socarrat?
-Getting a little bit of that socarrat.
-This is truly one of my all-time favorite vegetarian recipes -- I mean, so much depth of flavor, so much complexity.
-And you know you're talking to me.
I know who I'm talking to.
[ Laughs ] -And I got to say, yes, it happens to be vegetarian, but it's so, so -- I mean, just so filling and satisfying.
With the chunky vegetables -- -They're not falling apart.
The vegetables are not mush.
I mean, you look at this bean here inside, and it looks meaty and -- but tender.
-The rice is beautifully cooked.
-Full of flavor from that sofrito.
-Well, thank you, Becky.
-So, if you want to make this beautiful, vibrant, delicious paella at home, it starts with building flavor right in the skillet.
Sauté cauliflower and green beans until they're well-browned.
Use tomato paste to make a savory cooking broth and top the rice with butter beans and the sautéed vegetables.
So, from "America's Test Kitchen," a truly stupendous and satisfying cauliflower and bean paella.
-Where's the sangria?
Now you're talking.
[ Chuckles] ♪♪ -I am all-in when it comes to bean burgers and all the veggie patties you can find at the supermarket, but I am more than a little skeptical of these meatless burgers that pretend to be meat.
But today Jack's going to walk me through all these options.
-My goal today is to change your mind.
-And I know how difficult that's going to be because you're not somebody easily swayed.
So, there are four meatless burger patties.
Some of these came as patties, and we cooked them that way.
Some of them came as basically a block of ground product that we shaped.
-[ Laughs ] You almost need a new dictionary for this kind of food.
I mean, you know, ground plant-based meat -- I mean, it's an odd terminology, but I'm going to tell you there's something good on the table.
So, you dig in.
-You can tell a lot by looking at them raw.
-[ Laughs ] Yes, you can.
-So, no surprise -- the one that looks like a beef burger... -Mm-hmm.
-...ended up cooking up a lot more like a beef burger, and the one that looks like an old frozen mushroom was further away from the real deal.
There are four components that I want you to be thinking about.
-The first is what's the base?
And so it's either soy or pea protein... -Mm-hmm.
-...wheat gluten, mycoprotein, which is from fungus.
The pea and the soy probably do a better job.
The second thing is flavors.
So, there's all kinds of flavors.
I think the ones that are trying to replicate the flavor of beef are better than the ones where you can taste carrot or garlic or onion.
I mean, I like garlic and onion and carrot, but it doesn't really taste like meat.
-Okay, come on.
Like, this -- How does -- How -- What?
This is supposed to be a burger?
-It is a burger.
-It is -- [ Laughs ] Ohh.
-Is your mind still open here?
You didn't say anything about the middle sample.
-You know what?
This has a texture that is very similar to burger.
The flavor was fine.
It doesn't taste like meat by any stretch, but I love all sorts of bean burgers and veggie patties, and this tastes like a veggie patty, but it has the texture of a burger, and it -- so it's -- I like it.
-I would eat this happily.
Well, a lot of the texture is how they process it, how they take all these ingredients and then turn them into a patty.
So, the best ones have coconut oil... -Oh, that makes sense.
-...which is solid at room temperature... -Mm-hmm.
-...and melts when it's heated and gives you that sort of lusciousness that you get from a beef burger.
-The last thing is how they replicate looking like meat.
-And so some of them use pomegranate juice, beet juice, hemoprotein.
So they basically extracted from soybean plant roots something that is very similar to the hemoglobin that's in beef... -Hmm.
-...and really is giving you this appearance not only when it's raw but when it's cooked.
If you cook it too rare, it's pink in the middle.
-Now, can you undercook these and, like, cook them "medium rare," or do you really have to cook them all the way through?
-You want to get a crispy exterior, 'cause I think -- You want them browned.
-But if you want a well-done burger, make it well-done.
I think they're better cooked to somewhere around the 130.
Well, these are very different right off the bat.
-These two definitely tastes like veggie patties.
I mean, the texture is of a veggie patty.
The flavor is a veggie patty.
This one is just really unappealing -- I mean, the texture, the flavor, the size, the thickness.
This one I could easily make fun of, but there's something about it I like.
It tastes like a veggie patty, but there's a nice flavor in there.
I love the browning and the crisp on the outside.
It would be a lovely -- It'd be a lovely dinner, but it doesn't taste like meat.
-So, these two are really approaching meat.
They're not there, but, you know, enough ketchup and mustard and pickles and tomatoes and a good brioche bun -- I don't think I'd be fooled, but I'd be happy.
-And I will tell you, with the better ones -- and I've done a lot of cooking with these recently -- -tacos... -Mmm!
-...and other things where you start using bigger flavors.
Honestly, it gets really difficult to tell the difference because the texture is so close and there's no flavor that screams, "Not beef!"
-This one, I like the texture a bit better.
-It's a bit more like beef.
But there's something about this one I really appreciate.
It doesn't have a strong flavor one way or the other.
It almost tastes a little on the sausage side, but I like that.
I think if you're looking for a really good replacement for beef, this is the closest, I would think.
This is not far behind, though, in terms of flavor.
-Let's start with what you liked best.
You can flip over the cards.
So, you chose the runner-up, which we recommended... -Mm.
-...the Beyond Meat Beyond Burger.
So, they have two products.
This is the one that's sold already in a patty form, so they call it burger.
The other one that has beef at the end of the name is sold in a brick... -Gotcha.
-...like a ground meat.
So, the winner's down on the end.
So, this is the Impossible.
This is the one with the heme.
It's pretty close.
And when you start putting any seasoning in this other than salt and pepper, which is really all you've got, you really get pretty close to beef.
So, let's take a look at the things you were less enthusiastic about.
So, this is MorningStar Farms.
-This was not recommended.
It was better than some of the other "not recommended."
I mean, you found a little bit to like about it... -Mm-hmm.
-...but it's not that close to beef.
-And at the very end, this is the Gardein.
Bottom of the rankings.
It's too thin.
It's too wispy.
It's not really beefy.
-[ Laughs ] -It's not that close to meat.
-You're welcome, Julia.
-So, there you go.
If you're ready to enter the world of meat-free burgers, check out Impossible Foods' Impossible Burger, which costs about $10 for a 12-ounce package.
♪♪ -Even the best cutting boards slip around sometimes, and that's why we tested cutting-board stabilizers.
Now, you can always use a wet paper towel or dish towel under the boards, but these gadgets could be easier, and they could let us skip the soggy countertop.
We tried five models -- a set of these clip-on feet and four mats.
They're priced from about $3 to around $41, and we used them to stabilize wood and plastic boards on all different types of counters.
The bad news -- these silly little feet, called the Dreamfarm Chobs -- they're supertight and hard to put on.
Then even once you get them on, it's a problem.
They raise the board up too high, so it's like a trampoline when you're chopping.
Look at this.
Now, some of these mats were too thick or too narrow.
So, we had a board that rocked back and forth, and cleaning some of these -- totally annoying.
This one is like a grippy Lego surface, and we were picking parsley off it forever, even after it went through the dishwasher.
Our favorite was the Architec Smartmat.
This did a great job of keeping cutting boards of all materials from sliding around on all types of counters.
And because it's made up of these little rings, it was pretty easy to clean.
It's thin, it's flexible, so it's simple to store.
And if you've never used a cutting-board stabilizer, you should.
It feels great and so secure.
And they're just under $16.
It's a relatively small price to pay to never have to worry about your cutting board slipping ever again.
♪♪ -Cauliflower is having its day and being used as the main ingredient in all sorts of recipes, from pizza, Buffalo bites, to tacos, which is what Elle's going to show us how to make today.
-Yep, and we're going to start with a bed of crunchy slaw.
-And it is store-bought.
But before we get started, I'm going to do some prep.
-So, this slaw calls for half a mango.
I'm only going to peel half 'cause I'm only going to use half.
-Well, that's clever.
It keeps the other half... -Yeah.
-...for something else with the peel on so it doesn't brown.
-I'm always a little careful here so I don't cut into the core... -Mm-hmm.
Oh, I hit it.
I'm going to go around.
-So I'm going to go around and get this meat off, okay?
And I'm just going to cut this into 1/4-inch pieces.
I'm going to go straight into the bowl with this.
So now we need about a tablespoon of jalapeño pepper.
I'm going to cut it down the middle.
I like to quarter it.
It makes taking the ribs and seeds out... -Oh, that's clever.
-...a lot easier.
So once I take the ribs and seeds out, I'm going to dice it, but if you like it spicy, like I know you do, you can keep the ribs and the seeds.
So I'm going to cut it into just some matchstick pieces 'cause I want to mince it.
The smaller you get it to start, the easier the mince is.
So I need about a tablespoon of that.
There we go.
I'm going to now add 3 tablespoons of lime juice, a tablespoon of cilantro, chopped, some salt, and some pepper.
The mango and the jalapeño are going to give it an amazing sweet-heat combination.
-I love that combo.
I like that it starts with a store-bought base but then you gussy it up, and it doesn't take much.
It just saves you so much work.
-And look what we got.
It's giving summer vibes.
-[ Laughs ] -It's giving all the summer vibes.
-Well, and it's going to taste good in a taco.
So, that's all set.
I'm going to put it aside.
Now we're going to make our cilantro sauce.
So we're starting with 1/4 cup of vegan mayo vegan.
So, these are vegan tacos?
I think you'll like it.
We have 1/4 cup of dairy-free sour cream, and vegan sour creams -- textures vary depending on the brand.
So we have some water here so that we can create the texture that we want.
I'm going to add 3 tablespoons.
And to that, I'm going to add, also, 3 tablespoons of minced cilantro, 'cause it is a cilantro sauce.
-[ Laughs ] -And 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
And we're just going to whisk it.
This is the texture that you want.
This is the thickness.
Now, if you had some other sour cream, it may be thicker and you can just add a tablespoon of water at a time till you reach the consistency you like.
So, the sauce is done.
Just a couple of more steps before we start cooking tacos.
-Sauce, slaw, check.
-And this is the batter that's going to coat the cauliflower.
So what we need is something to make it crunchy, and we have a cup of unsweetened coconut flakes, and I'm going to put it in a shallow dish.
We have a cup of panko.
-Yep, and I'm just going to just use my hand to kind of give this a good mix.
There we go.
I think that looks good.
Now, the second part is a wet batter because we need to make the panko actually stick to the cauliflower.
So to do that, I have a cup of coconut milk here because we want to keep the flavor profile consistent.
-Coconut milk also has a really nice viscosity that will coat the cauliflower without running off.
I got 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of cumin, and a teaspoon of salt.
Just give it a good whisk.
We have everything we need.
We got a dry batter.
We have a wet batter.
Let's clean up so we can make some tacos.
So, we have the star of the show -- le cauliflower.
-[ Laughs ] -This is half a head of cauliflower... -Mm-hmm.
-...about 1 pound, cut into 1-inch florets.
I'm going to add it to our wet batter.
I love cauliflower, actually... -Me, too.
-...because it's so versatile, right?
-It takes on any flavor profile you tell it to.
I'm just going to toss them and make sure that they all get coated with our wet batter, right?
'Cause that's the important part of making our crunchy exterior.
So, that looks pretty well-tossed.
So now this part takes a little bit of time 'cause you have to do it, like, one cauliflower at a time, right?
-[ Laughs ] But it will be worth it in the end.
It will totally be worth it.
It's also important to let any excess batter drip back into the bowl.
-Well, it's pretty fast to get up to this point.
-I think so, and it's not a huge amount, and I think it's worth the work.
So I have here a rimmed baking sheet.
I sprayed it with some cooking spray.
Very simple prep.
And I'm just going to put my cauliflower there on the sheet.
We're going to do this for each and every one.
So, I'm just going to, like, take my tongs and kind of cover some and press it down.
-That'll get it all up into the base... -Yeah.
-...'cause it's crunch and it's flavor.
-We are not playing around.
So, we are finishing our very last cauliflower.
I have the oven set at 450 degrees, and the rack is in the middle position.
We're going to let it cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
At 10 minutes, we're going to check it, and then we'll rotate the pan... -Mm-hmm.
-...and then we'll have tacos.
It's been like 20 minutes.
That toasted coconut smell?
-It smells amazing.
I'll get the door for you.
Look at that.
-They're golden... -Mm-hmm.
-...crisp, ready to eat.
I'm going to start with a little of our slaw.
-And I love that you toasted the corn tortillas.
-That little bit of char on it.
It's going to be so great with this slaw we made.
Let's get you a couple of good, crunchy pieces.
I'm going to sauce it up for you.
-You know how to build a taco.
I am not vegan, but I will happily this any time.
The little bit of kick of fresh cilantro.
-And I love that coconut flavor.
It just adds a little bit more oomph to the cauliflower.
Elle, these tacos are fantastic.
-If you want to make these killer vegan tacos, start by making a simple lime-flavored slaw and creamy cilantro sauce.
Coat the cauliflower with a combination of shredded coconut and panko, then roast them in a hot oven before assembling it all into warm corn tortillas.
From "America's Test Kitchen," a brand-new recipe for vegan Baja-style cauliflower tacos.
You can get this recipe and all the recipes and product reviews from this season, along with selected episodes, at our website, americastestkitchen.com/tv.
I'm going to need you to make me another one.
-[ Laughs ] -[ Laughs ] ♪♪ ♪♪