17 February 2011

BBQ Tempeh & Homemade Baked Beans

A couple weeks back, I decided to stock up on some plain tempeh from Trader Joe's, which I recently discovered I am in love with (the tempeh). I used up the smoked tempeh last week, which left me with 2 packages of the plain stuff. I've literally been trying to think of how I want to use it up for the last week. I am not old and senile, but I am indecisive. So, last night I started talking with some twitter pals about soaking some navy beans. I didn't know what to make with them, and several pals said to make baked beans. Ick.

"But," they exclaimed, "they are a million times better when you make them from scratch! The canned baked beans are a sad representation of what real baked beans are all about."

"Fine! I'll give it a shot, but I better not be wasting my fucking beans. Do you understand how hard it is to find good dried beans around here?" I complained. I'm clearly a 70-year old in a 30-year old's body. Get off my damn lawn!

Well, I started wondering about what goes well with baked beans. And I remembered cookouts always seem to have baked beans with some sort of BBQ. And coleslaw. That is the fascinating story of how I ended up making not only BBQ sauce from scratch, but some baked beans and coleslaw. You will be quizzed. And it won't be multiple-choice, you whippersnappers.

Today's recipe for BBQ sauce makes A LOT of sauce. I have no idea what to do with the rest of mine. The tempeh (depending on how you cut it) can make 3-4 sandwiches on normal-sized burger buns. The BBQ sauce recipe is adapted from this one. The baked beans made enough for 3-4 as a side dish. Who would eat baked beans as a main dish? Sheesh. The bean recipe is adapted somewhat from Veganomicon, but I did change several things, such as using soaked, cooked navy beans instead of canned, and changing up the spices somewhat. If you do decide to make both recipes at the same time, I suggest starting the BBQ sauce once you get the beans in the oven. This will get them both done at the same-ish time. See? I'm helpful. Sometimes.

You can figure out your own coleslaw for now because mine wasn't perfect, but it made the cut for this dinner. I REALLY liked adding the creamy coleslaw onto the tempeh sandy, like a condiment. Clever, no? Yes, it is! This is my blog. I can say what I want!

Ingredients for BBQ sauce:
  • 1- 8oz package of plain tempeh, cut into finger-sized pieces or whatever size you prefer
  • 1- 15oz can of tomato sauce (or use 2 of the small cans)
  • 1 small-medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1/2 heaped tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TB brown sugar
  • just under 1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 TB spicy brown mustard
  • 3 TB regular yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp or so of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder just because
  • 1 1/2 TB Braggs liquid aminos (or soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • A pinch of kosher or sea salt to your tastes
Method for the BBQ sauce and Tempeh cooking:
  1. Heat a large sauce pan or deep skillet over a medium heat. Add the oil, cumin and red pepper flakes. Let the oil heat through...maybe 3-5 minutes. Add in the onions and let cook about 6-8 minutes. You want them transparent and soft. I even let mine caramelize a tiny bit. 
  2. While the onions were cooking, I got a bowl and whisked together the rest of the ingredients (except the minced garlic). Always be prepared or something. 
  3. Okay, onions are cooked. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes. It'll be nice and fragrant. 
  4. Add the bowl of ingredients I made you prepare. Haha. You're welcome. Stir well and scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan. I just used a whisk because it was easiest and I didn't want to get another utensil. 
  5. Let cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes, so it thickens a bit. I do suggest that once it starts bubbling, you turn the heat down to just under medium heat. Otherwise the bubbling could make a mess. I got sauce in my hair, if that is any indication. And, while I'm quite short, that sauce got some serious air. So, you've made sauce. Congrats.
  6. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (I should have maybe told you that already). Lightly oil a baking dish of some sort. I used an enameled stoneware baking dish. Pour about half of the BBQ sauce into the dish. Then drop your tempeh fingers in. I used my fingers to flip the tempeh around in the sauce to cover all sides in said sauce. But, if you are a germophobe or whatever, you may use tongs. I also used a spoon to scoop lots of sauce onto the tops of the tempeh. Cover dish with foil. Bake about 30 minutes. Or until the fingers are somewhat tender and have absorbed a bit of the BBQ sauce.
  7. When I put the tempeh slices on my bun, I slathered on a bit more of the leftover sauce that had cooked in the dish. Holy yum. Then, topped it with some coleslaw and a bit of yellow mustard. It was ridiculously messy, but SO worth it. 
Now, on to the beans. I assume you have already soaked them overnight. Mine tend to soak close to 18 hours before I cook them. Then, put them in the pot with fresh water and about a TB of salt. Stir it all up. Put the lid on, askew, to let the steam out. Cook the navy beans for about an hour over medium heat. But, test for doneness. yours may take longer or less. I dunno! SO, your beans are cooked. Lets get started with the rest of the recipe.

Ingredients for the baked beans:
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and drained navy beans (or 1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 - 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
  • dash cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf (don't forget to remove it before serving the beans!)
  • 1 tsp Braggs (because I'm a junky for the stuff)
  • some black pepper to your tastes
Method for the baked beans:
  1. Find yourself an oven-proof pot with lid. I used a small enameled cast-iron dutch oven. Heat the pot over a medium burner and add the oil and red pepper flakes. Then add the onion and cook until the onions are translucent. 5-7 minutes. Now add the garlic. Cook another couple of minutes until some of the onions are just starting to turn golden. 
  2. While the onions are cooking, add all the other ingredients (except the beans) to a small bowl and whisk to combine. 
  3. Once the onions are browned a smidge, add the sauce you just mixed up. Stir well and dislodge any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook about 5 minutes this way. Then turn the burner off.
  4. Add the beans and mix well. Pop the lid on the pot and cook on the center rack of oven 60 minutes total. BUT, halfway through, pull them out and give them a good stir. Take a moment to taste them and adjust your spices. Then put the cover back on and cook another 30 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf and toss it in the trash. Done!


  1. YUM! looks so good! great detail in your recipes as well. this is on my must try list!

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  3. wow meg, that bbq was CRAZY good. i'm not a fan of tempeh, but i have converted back. the bbq with the coleslaw is awesome. very messy, but well worth it. thanks for the post, i have enough to eat bbq all weekend. awesome recipe!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. WOOHOO, Brian! I'm glad I could turn you back to the tempeh. I like it much better than tofu! And, with this recipe, I don't know what it is about the creamy coleslaw, but it goes perfectly with the BBQ sauce. And it gives the otherwise chewy tempeh a bit of crunch. I dig it. Now, I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the BBQ sauce :)

  5. Hi, I am from the UK and have no idea what Braggs is! Could you please tell me so that I can either find out where to get some or find some sort of alternative. REALLY excited about making this!

    1. It's called liquid aminos. I just know it tastes like soy sauce mixed with a little pasted sesame oil. I hope this helps!

  6. I just found this recipe on pinterest! I am going to make it next week :)
    Can you bake teh beans and tempeh at teh same time and same temp?

  7. The food looks amazing. Mouth watering. Great pairing for dinner.