Friday, June 3, 2011

(Not Elvis Presley's) Memphis BBQ Tofu

Sorry to have been such an infrequent poster lately; things have been busy, and thus not super-conducive to blogging. I have been cooking, but we've had a bunch of parties, graduations, and cookouts to attend, so it's mostly been garden variety, crowd-feeding stuff like pasta and/or grain salads that get thrown together with no thought of measuring, quantifying, or other types of rationalization. But today I have an actual recipe, and it's a pretty good one, too: a sort of happy mash-up of Vegan Dad's Memphis BBQ Tofu and my own Sweet & Spicy Tempeh Wings, improved by the addition of some whisky.

Now, I realize that there may be some who find a certain degree of incongruity in the idea of a Memphis-inspired "dry rub" for pressed bean curd, but I feel constrained to point out that A. it's really more a flavorful coating than a "rub," per se, to be applied before the tofu gets pan-seared, doused in smoky, boozy sauce, and baked until sticky and delicious; B. my version includes nutritional yeast, which confers upon it unimpeachable hippie street cred; and C. it's totally pig-friendly, which is more than can be said for more "traditional" renditions. So fire up the stove, crack open the Jim Beam, and let's cook us some tofu!

The Tofu
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
~ 1 tsp. each: smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
~ Oil or cooking spray

~ Slice the tofu in half horizontally, then divide into eight equal slices (this should give you 16 pieces). Pat dry.
~ In a shallow dish, combine all the dry ingredients, then coat each piece of tofu thoroughly with the mixture. Set aside for at least 30 minutes (I made the sauce during this time).
~ Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray or a very thin layer of oil. Cook the tofu for about two minutes on each side, until you get a nice sear on the outside. Remove to a plate.

The Sauce
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil
~ 1 medium onion, chopped fine
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 tsp. each: smoked paprika, chili powder,
~ 1/2 tsp. salt
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 2-3 tsp. hot sauce (or to taste)
~ 1 tbsp. each: prepared mustard, vegan Worcestershire sauce
~ 1/3 cup maple syrup
~ 1/3 cup ketchup
~ 1/4 cup bourbon

~ In a saucepan, heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, until softened.
~ Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and raise the heat to medium until the mixture bubbles.
~ Reduce the heat to low and cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (if it gets too thick, you can add up to 1/2 cup of water, but remember we want a coating for the tofu, rather than a lake for it swim in).

And now...
~ Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit, and coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
~ Arrange the fried tofu pieces in the baking dish, and then pour on the sauce, flipping them over to coat.
~ Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, turning the tofu over once or twice to make sure the sauce gets cooked on. Ovens vary, so keep an eye on it; it's okay if the sauce gets ever so slightly charred around the edges, but you don't want it to burn.
~ Serve hot with the accompaniments of your choice. (We had ours with mac & cheeze and creamed spinach, for that old-school, south of the Mason-Dixon vibe: highly recommended!)

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