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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Diner-Style Hot Tempeh Sandwiches

Because it's a great challenge to veganize the seemingly un-veganizable!!

I've had this idea for a while now.  The inspiration comes from an entree I used to love when I worked at a family restaurant in my early 20's.  I'm sure other restaurants have similar menu items, but there was just something about the combination of shredded turkey in gravy, on bread, with a scoop of mashed potatoes, and then everything smothered with more gravy.  Now that's epic diner food right there.

Well clearly I had to do away with the turkey, because no.  But tempeh made an excellent substitute.  (I've written about tempeh before here.)  I could have marinated the tempeh longer, but I was in a hurry.  If you are one of those people who has the ability to plan ahead, you could soak it for about an hour.  I don't, so twenty minutes was good enough for me.  I'm not going to post a recipe for the mashed potatoes, bucause I'm going to go ahead and assume that y'all can figure that out on your own.  And a quick note about the gravy: I vividly remember the gravy on the hot turkey sandwiches way back when being this crazy shade of electric yellow, so I added a few dashes of turmeric for my own amusement.  This is totally optional, though.

Also, this is a seriously carb-heavy dish.  I would recommend adding some veggies to serve along with this.  And perhaps running a marathon the next day to work off those carbs.  Or, you know, you could skip the top piece of bread and serve these sammies open-faced.  Your choice.

For the tempeh:
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
Pepper, to taste
2 8 oz packages tempeh, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced
2 tsp (4 cloves) chopped garlic
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp non-dairy milk
1 tsp oregano

For the gravy:
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Turmeric (optional)

You're also gonna want: good quality white bread (or bread of choice) and some mashed potatoes.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir together veg broth, garlic powder, liquid smoke, poultry seasoning, and pepper.  Add the chopped tempeh to the bowl and stir to make sure all the pieces are covered with broth.  Let sit for 20 minutes to an hour.
In a large saute pan, heat onion and garlic on medium high until soft, about 5 min.  Using a slotted spoon, remove tempeh from broth (but don't dump the broth!) and add to the pan.  Cook for about 10 min, stirring frequently.  If tempeh starts to stick, add broth 1 Tbsp at a time.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and milk.  After the 10 min is up, add the broth mixture to the pan, and stir in the cornstarch mixture and oregano.  Turn heat up to high until gravy starts to bubble.  Decrease heat to medium low and simmer while you make the other gravy.  Don't forget to stir it once in a while.
In a small saucepan, heat the 1 1/2 cups of the broth, poultry seasoning, and pepper on medium heat.  In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup broth and flour.  Slowly stir this mixture into the saucepan. Add a few dashes of turmeric, if desired. Stir frequently while gravy thickens.  It should be done in 5-8 minutes.
To assemble: Place one slice of bread on a plate.  Top with a heaping scoop of tempeh mixture.  Top that with another slice of bread (optional).  Throw a scoop of potatoes on the plate, and top everything with the gravy from the saucepan.  Devour and enjoy!

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