A new Dallas startup is doing some innovative things in the realm of vegan "meat." Called The Boneless Butcher, it's an indie outfit that just launched with two meaty items: vegan steaks and vegan ribz, plus a goal of opening as a vegan butcher storefront down the road.
For now, the products are available online, and carried at vendors such Snow on the Rox, a vegan food truck restaurant at Grow DeSoto Marketplace, and Mashup Market, a vegan and gluten-free market located in Denton.
Boneless Butcher was founded by Crystal Gomez, who wanted to help the challenge vegans confront when they step away from eating meat. She didn't have a culinary background, but had been doing creative vegan home cooking for a number of years.
"It's a common dilemma when you're first transitioning into a vegan diet and you can't figure out what to eat," she says. "I hope that you can sit down with my steak or my ribz and feel completely satisfied."
Most of us grow up eating meat, and most of us also crave the food we grew up with. That's why the meat substitute field exists: to fulfill those nostalgic yearnings.
Gomez makes her steaks and ribz primarily from seitan, a popular ingredient in the substitute meat world. Seitan is made of gluten, the main protein of wheat, and is favored because of the way it can mimic the taste and chewy texture of meat.
Her steaks combines seitan with ground chickpeas, mushrooms, onions, and garlic. You're not going to get a medium rare experience, more like a Salisbury steak, but they sear nicely and boast a steaky flavor.
Her ribs combine seitan with mushrooms and are then smothered in Texas barbecue sauce. They have a smoky flavor and a tender-chewy texture.
The steaks are each a 6-ounce cut, and come in a 2-pack for $13. The ribz are a full "rack," approximately one pound, and are $16.
"I've been working on the recipes for a few years, but the quarantine gave me time to develop them into something I felt confident bringing to the market," she says.
Gomez has a day job in the health care industry but since Boneless made its debut, she's seen enough demand to evolve this side gig into something larger, including a vegan butcher shop like Herbiverous Butcher in Minneapolis and The Butcher's Son in Berkeley.
"I'd love for Dallas to have a vegan butcher shop, and that's something I'm working towards," she says.
That means building up a bigger selection of options; she's currently developing a brisket. She'd also like to offer some hot and prepared dishes.
"One of the best things I've made with the steak is a chicken-fried steak, it's really a game-changer, and it would be fun to do a vegan McRib," she says.
"There are other meat alternatives out there, but I didn't see anyone doing what I'm doing, especially locally," she says. "Having a local presence is important to me, especially since Dallas' vegan community is huge."