Smoked Tofu with Spicy Texas BBQ Sauce
Last weekend, my highly-carnivorous stepfather was smoking a 20 lb beef brisket in his outdoor smoker– a daylong project he undertakes several times per summer with great pomp and circumstance.
As it turns out, of course, my dear friend Rachel and her vegetarian family of four was to be joining us for dinner.
And thus the stage was set for the invention of a new summer staple at our family’s summer beachhouse: Smoked Tofu with Texas BBQ sauce.
It was almost an afterthought. We just drained a container of semi-firm organic tofu and dabbed the excess water off; sliced it into thick 3/4″ slabs, and smoked them at 300 degrees (alongside the brisket) until they turned a uniform shade of golden brown, just shy of an hour. We knew we had a winner when Rachel’s 4 year old son blurted across the table: “I LOVE the tofu!”.
Rachel tells me she would happily use this tofu in a sandwich, topped with an interesting condiment to lend some moisture and a touch of salt; a BBQ sauce? a Chipotle hummus? I bet it would also be KILLER as a vegetarian taco filling… paired perhaps with black beans, avocado, salsa and some crunchy slaw. However you serve it, you’ll probably want a condiment to pair it with, since the homemade version is very low in sodium, unlike those storebought pre-baked, smoke-flavored tofus you may have come across. Plus, the smoking process will dry it out somewhat. I did taste it myself and thought it was terrific, though I couldn’t actually swallow it since my intestines have a longstanding grudge against soy, and refuse to digest it. (Which is why you rarely see me blogging about tofu recipes.)
If your resident outdoor cook has got the smoker going this summer, give your arteries a rest from the red meat, why dontcha, and try smoking some vegetarian items? You can start by trying out this tofu as a main dish and top it with the Texas BBQ sauce recipe below. After all, commercial BBQ sauces almost always contain gluten.
If you don’t have a dedicated smoker as my die-hard pitmaster stepfather does, you can rig up a smoker-type situation on your outdoor grill by soaking some smoking wood chips for *at least* an hour and placing them in a sealed foil pouch along with your tofu. Then, cook the pouch on medium heat in a closed grill until its smoky to your satisfaction (30 min? 45? It will depend on your grill and the temperature, so don’t stray too far). Note that it may not get the same golden brown color as it would if done in a proper smoker, as the sealed foil pouch may steam the moist tofu a bit.
Or what about smoking an eggplant to make home-made babaganoush? If you don’t have an outdoor smoker or a grill, you can cheat by “smoking” your eggplant over the open flame of your stovetop gas burner. Check out David Lebovitz’s Baba Ganoush recipe for a how-to, and note that I’d probably stick to a stovetop charring time of about 3-4 minutes per side. Alternatively, you can rig up the grill as described above, and stick one or more well-pierced eggplants in the foil pouch. Cook them in a closed grill until they are cooked soft and charred all over, probably about 45 minutes or so depending on their sizes.
Recipe: Gluten-free Spicy Texas BBQ Sauce
(makes 2 cups)
Note: feel free to taste as you go and modify the spices to your preference. This is a VERY forgiving recipe that can be tweaked in all sorts of ways and still come out delicious.
- 2 TBSPs butter
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 cup tomato puree (can substitute crushed tomatoes. Add more if needed to dilute the spiciness if you accidentally overseason)
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock (or even better, if you can get your hands on a vegetarian “beef” bouillon, like Better Than Bouillon’s “No Beef Base,” that would be great.)
- 2 TBSPs Wheat-free Tamari sauce
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more/less to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp chile powder
- Melt butter in a large saucepan and saute onions, celery and garlic until soft
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer for ~30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Turn off heat and remove bay leaf
- Let sauce rest for at least 1 hour before serving. Ideally, sauce can even be made ahead by a day and stored covered in fridge.
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