Friday, May 28, 2010

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Tempeh "Wings"

There's been a whole lotta cookin' (and bloggin') goin' on around here this past week or so. Which is good, because it means that A. everyone is getting fed, and B. I'm still engaged with the idea of writing for fun in the midst of writing my thesis - which is also fun, but you know what I mean. Writing about shit: that's what I do!

Anyway, as is often the case here in New England, the weather has suddenly turned hot, which means that when one thinks of eating at all, al fresco seems particularly appealing - as Ratty observed in The Wind in the Willows, "It's a splendid day. Come for a row, or a stroll along the hedges, or a picnic in the woods, or something." Today I present the gentle reader with a summertime recipe that begs to be taken on a picnic, or at least outside on the porch, preferably with some sort of icy cold drink. It also happens to be yet another paean to the wonders of the truly spectacular and delicious Henry's Gourmet Tempeh, the current god of my fermented-soybean-specific idolatry. It's firm, it's delicious, and it has none of the bitterness that sometimes occurs in tempeh. This makes it extremely user-friendly, because you can omit any pre-recipe steaming to mellow out the flavor (an absolute boon in hot, humid weather).

Right now, thanks to my partner's recent trip to Toronto, I'm lucky enough to have a refrigerator full of the stuff, so I'm like a kid in a (tempeh) candy shop, and you can expect more recipes featuring it in the upcoming. Here in the Vegan Universe, there are always recipes that get loads of buzz, but that one somehow hasn't got around to making. For me, tempeh wings fall into this category - everyone raves about them, and I always think, "Hmmm, one of these days I'm going to do that," then dinnertime comes around, and there I am soaking lentils, pressing tofu, and/or stripping the leaves off a huge-ass bunch of kale as per usual (not that there's anything wrong with that). Well, having six - count 'em - packages of tempeh effectively removed any excuse, so I ponied up two of my precious stash to make a double batch.

These are basically a mash-up of the (by now famous) Tempeh Wingz from Don't Eat Off the Sidewalk, and the Vegan Sweet and Sticky Wingz, from another of my favorite blogs, Vegan Dad. The results were an unqualified success, with a perfect balance of hot and sweet - they're pretty filling, but so good that we ate them all in two meals, which is why I recommend you follow my example and make the quantity below. I will definitely be repeating this, especially with summer apparently in full swing; the addition of fresh corn, a potato or grain salad, and a cold bottle of white wine would make for a picnic as it exists in the mind of God, or maybe even Édouard Manet. (You just know the guy on the right is saying, "Honey, these tempeh wings are delicious!")

The Tempeh "Wings"
~ 2 8 oz. packages tempeh
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 cup flour
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, paprika, sage, parsley, garlic powder
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 1 cup panko crumbs

~ Preheat your oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Cut the tempeh into four equal rectangles, then carefully slice those rectangles in half horizontally (using both packages, this will give you 16 pieces).
~ Set up an assembly line with 3 bowls: soy milk in one, flour and spices in another, and panko in the third.
~ Take a piece of tempeh, dip it in the milk, then in the flour mixture. Dip it once more into the milk, then coat it in the panko. Continue until all the pieces are used up, and place them on your greased baking sheet.
~ Spray the tops of the tempeh with cooking spray, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove, flip over, and bake for another 15 minutes.
~ Remove from the oven and set aside.

The Sauce
~ 4 tbsp. Earth Balance, or other vegan margarine
~ 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
~ 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1 tbsp. each: mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (I like Frank's)
~ 1/2 cup maple syrup
~ 1/2 cup ketchup
~ 1 cup plain unsweetened soy milk

~ In a sauce pan, melt the margarine, and saute the onion, garlic, and salt over medium-low heat, about 15 minutes.
~ Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and raise heat to medium until the mixture bubbles. and bring to bubbling.
~ Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 mins, until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

And now...
~ Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray, then ladle about a cup of your sauce into the bottom and spread it around.
~ Arrange your tempeh pieces in the baking dish, then pour the remaining sauce over them, making sure they're all nicely coated (you can flip them over once or twice to be sure, if you like).
~ Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until the sauce has baked on and the tempeh is starting to blacken ever so slightly around the edges.
~ Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes before serving. We had ours with creamed spinach and a veganization of my mom's classic, old-school potato salad.

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