I have nothing against meat substitutes per se. I ate a lot of soya mince as a child - that good old TVP stuff that featured in school dinners and in our family meals at the lean end of the benefit fortnight. There was nothing pretentious about soya mince; it didn't pretend to be anything other than a cheap replacement for meat. But quorn is marketed as some sort of space age wonder food. The packaging screams "HEALTHY! NATURAL! LESS THAN 3% FAT!" whilst remaining silent on the fact that there it has even less than 3% flavour and the texture of a tramp's navel fluff. It's got no fat in it and its USP is that it's made from microbes. You could say the same about helmet cheese and I wouldn't want to cook with that, either.
Quorn is a product aimed at the worst kind of vegetarian, the kind who can't actually cook vegetables and who really misses meat. Except that they don't miss real meat (chops with bones in and liver and bacon and venison and kidneys and black pudding), but bland overprocessed shite (mechanically recovered mince and factory-farmed, water-sodden chicken breasts). This is why quorn comes in fillets, mince and breadcrumb-covered nuggets. It is an anti-food aimed at people who want to being caring, fluffy animal lovers but still want to be able to eat something that has the comfortingly familiar taste and texture of a turkey twizzler.
I have only ever cooked with it once, and that was only because I was suffering from a brain tumour. I was knackered and ailing and I suddenly remembered that one of the two vegetarians who was coming to my pre-Christmas dinner last year was a
I opened the bag and poured a mass of sorry little chunks into a large bowl. If you have never encountered it before, just imagine taking the packaging material from padded envelopes and then pissing on it and you will have a fair idea of its appearance and texture. I chopped an onion finely and fried it until the strands were brown and crispy then added it to the bowl's depressing contents. I chucked in two crushed cloves of garlic, a teaspoon or so of dried basil and a half or so each of oregano and thyme, a few sundried tomatoes chopped finely (but not too finely), lots of black pepper, a little salt and a tablespoon or so of oatmeal. I can never be bothered to faff about making breadcrumbs to bind and bulk meatballs. Oatmeal works just as well.
I added a beaten egg and mixed it all together thoroughly. Then I tried to form balls with the mixture. But quorn lacks the structural integrity of meat; it is so spineless that it can't be formed into credible balls. So I decided to turn it into an Italian style unmeatloaf instead. I chopped up two balls of mozzarella (cheap mozarella will do if you are making this; adding expensive ingredients to quorn is sheer folly - caviar to the general) and threw those in, plus a chopped green pepper, a chopped red pepper, some more oatmeal, a tablespoon of pesto and a couple of tablespoons of grated parmesan. When blended together it looks like superior quality vomit, as the little chunks of mozzarella resemble daintily pale bits of sweetcorn. I poured it all into an oiled two-pound pyrex loaf dish, sprinkled more grated parmesan and dried herbs on it to make it look pretty, covered it foil and cooked it in a medium oven for about 20 minutes with the foil on, and another ten with it off.
As it was, magfish cried off with some kind of feeble ailment (that could easily have been avoided if she ate proper food like liver and pilchards), but godgirl, the other (pescivorous) veggie in attendance pronounced it delicious and ate so much of it, washed down with and gin, that she made herself feel quite unwell. I wouldn't recommend gin as an accompaniment. A white rioja would probably work well with it, though it would work even better with some real food.