Recipe Review

Is Gordon Ramsay’s Wildly Popular Eggplant “Steak” Too Good to Be True? I Tried It to Find Out.

published Mar 31, 2021
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Credit: Sara Tane

Gordon Ramsay recently shocked his TikTok fans by announcing he’s “turning vegan,” only to reveal at the end of the video that he’s going vegan … for lunch. But regardless of how much meat he is or isn’t eating, he paired the joke (which was also a jab at one of his critics) with a recipe for decadent eggplant steaks served over mashed potatoes and topped with crispy mushrooms and a red wine pan sauce. Fancy. Naturally, my curiosity got the best of me and I had to try it out.

I will preface this by saying I’m absolutely terrified of Gordon Ramsay, and I’m extremely hesitant to criticize his recipes in any way. I am fully aware that this man’s love language is publicly dragging strangers, and this is simply not a fight I’m trying to pick. So, Gordon, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I loved these eggplant steaks. I really, really did. I’m not just saying that. Gordon, you now have permission to exit the chat.

Here’s what I thought of his vegan masterpiece (which has racked up more than 4 million views).

Credit: Sara Tane

How to Make Gordon Ramsay’s Vegan Eggplant Steaks

Before I dive into the first step of the cooking process, let me warn you about the grocery shopping involved. It’s a pain in the you-know-what. Fresh beet juice? Vegan Worcestershire? Fresh and dried rosemary? The ingredient list is comically long, and full of things I don’t regularly keep on hand. Now, let’s turn our attention to the recipe itself. The method has 14 steps. Fourteen. Sure, no animals were harmed in the making of this recipe, but my god, the international supply chain and my wallet sure were.

Once I managed to source all of my ingredients, it was time to get cooking. To be clear, this recipe includes a whole lot more than eggplant steaks — there’s a homemade spice rub, a basting jus, red wine glazed mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes, and a charred vegetable demi glace. (He made it look so simple in the video!)

Before I started cooking, I decided I was not going to make the demi glace (sue me) because I haven’t made one since culinary school and don’t plan on changing that anytime soon.

Credit: Sara Tane

To start, you’ll char whole eggplants over a gas burner (if you don’t have gas burners, you could do this under a broiler), then place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once they’re cool enough to handle, remove the skin and chop off the tops. Season with a homemade spice rub (we’re talking toasted seeds and spices, which are then finely ground in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle), drizzle with oil and red wine, and then send ‘em to the oven for an hour or so, rotating every so often.

In theory, if you just wanted eggplant steaks, you could stop there. But I wanted to give this recipe an honest try, so I figured I’d give the basting jus a whirl. And I obviously wanted crispy mushrooms and mashed potatoes with dinner, so I made those, too. I got to work on those while my eggplants were roasting away.

The basting jus is a simple reduction of wine and beet juice, which is then mounted with vegan butter and seasoned with vegan Worcestershire, soy sauce, and liquid aminos. The basting jus is drizzled over the steaks at the very end of roasting, and it imparted a ton of flavor. The mushrooms are pan-fried, glazed with red wine and aromatics, and finished with vegan butter. The potatoes are pretty classic — boiled Yukon golds that are riced, then finished with a garlicky, herby (vegan) butter cream sauce.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review of Gordon’s Eggplant Steaks

This recipe is fan-freaking-tastic. I’m not just saying this because I’m terrified of Gordon Ramsay knocking down my front door and berating me. It was undeniably restaurant-quality (read: it was full of butter — in this case, vegan butter) and jam-packed with rich, umami flavors. Did the eggplant taste like beef? No, but it was spiced beautifully and had a lovely smoky flavor. Frankly, it annoys me when vegetables are referred to as vegan “steak.” Putting these roasted eggplants up against beef is an unfair and meaningless comparison. Let’s manage expectations here and just say this is an amazing eggplant recipe, okay? 

I really think vegans and non-vegans will love this dish, but it really is asking a lot. That’s saying something coming from me, because I usually gravitate towards more involved recipes. But this whole process took me right back to long hours at culinary school. I had every burner going at one point and my kitchen looked like a tornado tore through it once I was finally done. This is not your easy weeknight dinner. I didn’t even make the demi glace and I was absolutely winded by the end of it all.

It bums me out that one of the most influential voices in the food world chose *this* recipe for his vegan debut. The whole time I was making it, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much easier it would be to just sear a steak and call it a day. But you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen and whip up 18 different sub-recipes to create a delicious vegan meal!

I think this dish would give someone who’s never cooked vegan food the wrong idea about it. Vegetable cookery can be extremely simple, and while all the components of this recipe were delicious, they weren’t all necessary. If you’re having a bougie dinner party (post-COVID, duh), this would be a fun entrée to prepare, but otherwise I’m not sure who this recipe is for.

Credit: Sara Tane

If You Want to Try This Recipe, a Few Tips

  1. Pick and choose which components to make. If you’re mostly curious about the eggplant steaks, just make the eggplant and the spice rub. If you want a little red wine pan sauce action, go ahead and make the basting jus. The crispy mushrooms, mashed potatoes, and demi glace, in my opinion, should be looked at as extras. If you want a little cooking project or you’re cheffing to impress, then sure, go for gold. But if you just want to see what vegan cooking is all about, they’re not really necessary.
  2. Opt for smaller eggplants. One thing to note about picking out eggplants is to always go for the smaller ones because their flavor is more concentrated. You’ll also want to make sure your two eggplants are similar in size so that they’ll cook at the same rate.
  3. Buy pre-ground spices, if necessary. If you don’t have a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, buy pre-ground versions of these spices and call it a day. Will that keep Gordon Ramsay from absolutely dragging you online? Well, I don’t know. But your eggplant steaks will still be delicious.