TURKEY will remain the roast of choice on Christmas dining tables across the country tomorrow but the big bird’s popularity is facing an increasing threat from the unlikeliest of sources.
Whilst turkey, goose and beef continue to be consumed in vast quantities on Christmas Day, more of us are celebrating the big day with a meat-free meal sourced from a small North Yorkshire market town that was this week named as one of the UK’s best places to live.
Sales of Quorn, the meat substitute that is produced in the Hambleton town of Stokesley, have risen by seven per cent in 2015, a year when most other food manufacturers experienced little, if any growth.
Quorn is a mycoprotein that was developed from a single strain of edible fungus in the 1960s by Lord J Arthur Rank as a potential solution to concerns about a worldwide food shortage.
After a slow start, when it became synonymous with parsimonious vegetarianism and the nut roast lobby, the brand has grown exponentially as Quorn has created a huge selection of recipe ideas and introduced a new vegan range.
An estimated 75 per cent of the company’s customers are non-vegetarians looking for a healthier and more sustainable option to meat from products such Quorn gammon steaks, Quorn bacon lardons, Quorn chorizo and mozzarella girasoli and Quorn meat-free ravioli.
The sales uplift has been helped by an increase in awareness following an advertising campaign led by Olympic athlete Mo Farah and breakthroughs into new markets, including Germany, Finland, Denmark, Australia and the United States.
Earlier this year Quorn was sold to Filipino firm Monde Nissan for £550m, and plans for further investment is expected to create more jobs as the business continues on its path for future growth.
Quorn currently employs over 300 people within the region, and as part of its journey to be a $1bn business by 2020, recently completed a £30m investment to create a third fermenter at its Billingham production plant, near Middlesbrough, where it makes approximately 22,000 tonnes of mycoprotein per year.
Dr Tim Finnigan, Technical and Innovation Director at Quorn Foods and specialist in sustainable innovation within the meat free market, said: “Having worked at Quorn for 25 years, I have seen it develop to become a business that doesn’t just provide a great-tasting alternative to meat, but also a sustainable alternative source of protein to address the concern of excessive meat consumption
within a growing population.”
Experts estimate that the global market for meat substitutes will increase to £1.7bn in five years time, up from £900m last year and the Yorkshire company looks well placed to feed a world which is hungry for its innovative products.
Looking for alternatives to leftover turkey and beef this Christmas? Here are a couple of tasty recipe ideas using Quorn:
Quorn meat-free chicken tarragon fillets in vermouth
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Calories per serving: 72 calories, 3.9.g protein, 2.8g carbohydrate (1.8g sugars), 3.7g fat (0.6g sat fat), 1.3g fibre, 0.2g salt
4 Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 leek, finely sliced
100g chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tsp dried tarragon
100ml white vermouth
300ml hot vegetable stock
200ml full or half fat milk
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Lightly sauté the Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets in half the oil in a shallow frying pan for 5-6 minutes or until slightly golden on each side. Take out and set aside.
Add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the leeks gently for 3-4 minutes or until soft then add the mushrooms and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Put the Quorn Meat Free Chicken Fillets back in the pan and add the tarragon and vermouth, simmer for 4-5 minutes until it has evaporated by half and then add the stock and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
Stir in the crème fraiche and serve immediately with sprinkled with fresh parsley.
Serve with a selection of fresh vegetables, new potatoes or boiled rice.
Quorn chicken-style pieces and leek pie
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Calories per serving: 169 calories, 7.4g protein, 12.0g carbohydrate (1.4g sugars), 9.4g fat (5.5g sat fat), 2.7g fibre, 0.3g salt
300g Quorn Chicken Style Pieces
Ingredients for the pastry
150g plain flour + extra for dusting
¼ tsp mustard powder
50g butter, diced
75g Wensleydale cheese, grated
5-6 tbsp chilled water
Ingredients for the filling
1 tsp vegetable oil
2 medium leeks, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
25g plain flour
½ tsp mustard powder
1 vegetable stock cube dissolved in 100ml water
200ml semi-skimmed milk plus extra for glazing
Preheat the oven 200°C / Gas mark 5. For a fan assisted oven reduce the temperature to 180°C.
For the pastry, mix the flour and mustard powder together. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Add the grated cheese and stir through.
Gradually add sufficient water to form a firm dough. Cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
For the filling, melt the butter and oil in a large saucepan. Add the leeks and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat until softened but not coloured. Stir in the garlic and Quorn Chicken Style Pieces and continue to cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the stock and milk stirring until the sauce thickens. Season to taste. Spoon the Quorn mixture into a pie dish. Cover with cling film and cool.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use to cover the top of the pie dish. Brush the pastry with a little milk to glaze.
Bake for 25 minutes until the top is golden brown.
Serve with seasonal vegetables and new potatoes.