Seldom does a day go by when there’s not some mention of another restaurant or retail brand adding a plant-based meat alternative to its lineup. The “We have the meats” culinary professionals at Arby’s, a part of Inspire Brands Inc., Sandy Springs, Georgia, have had enough and are turning the tables with the concept of “megatables.” While plant-based meat alternatives are vegetables designed to mimic meat, megatables are meats prepared in a way to look like vegetables while delivering the protein nutrition of meat and possibly some plant power, too.
The first prototype from Arby’s is the marrot, short for meat carrot. Neville Craw, vice president of culinary innovation and brand executive chef for the company, cuts whole turkey breast into the shape of a carrot. It is cooked sous vide for one hour then rolled in a special carrot marinade with maple syrup powder. While not being served to guests just yet, preparation and serving instructions have the marrot being oven roasted for an hour then topped with a fresh sprig of parsley to give it the full carrot effect.
“Plant-based meats are the latest incarnation of making vegetables look like what Americans really want, which is great, tasty meat,” said Jim Taylor, chief marketing officer for Arby’s. “Universally, people know we’re supposed to eat vegetables every day. But 90 percent of American’s don’t eat the recommended amount. So, we said if others can make meat out of vegetables, why can’t we make vegetables out of meat?”
While the terms Marrot and Megatables are trademarked, this should not discourage others from exploring savory meat and plant combinations. Dried fruit and vegetable powders readily combine with comminuted meat that can be formed into various shapes or hydrated and made into a meat marinade.
If mushrooms can be made to resemble beef jerky, why not pump beef with a mushroom marinade and design it to resemble a portobello? Crispy chicken fries can be infused with celery juice. Replace the breadcrumbs in pork meatballs with lycopene-loaded tomato powder.