As winter approaches here in Minnesota, some would say that we are already experiencing winter weather. Sure, it's been below freezing a few nights. Sure, it has snowed twice. And yep, it feels cold. But, I am reminding myself that these very same temps will be a relief after we get through December, January, February, and March.
With this in mind, I am trying to lighten up my fall menus as long as I can before we delve into the deep freeze. The boatload of apples we picked at the apple orchard a few weeks ago, on a sunny, warm, golden day, have now worked their way into one galette, one monster pie, lots of apple cinnamon oatmeal, several cheese and cracker dinners, and a batch of apple-raspberry applesauce! This week's apple creation is a hard working Apple Tempeh Hash great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
This recipe has a double kick to it from the poblano pepper and the smokey chipotle pepper. If you want to tone it down you can substitute bell pepper for poblano, reduce/eliminate the chipotle pepper, or do both. I think the sweet and spicy work magic together when finished with the acid from the lime. Avocado needs no explanation, right? The tempeh is cooked in apple juice or apple cider which adds sweetness to its mellow flavor.
If you are not familiar with tempeh I highly recommend it as a versatile and nutritious vegetarian protein. Traditionally made in Indonesia where temperatures and humidity levels are perfect for tempeh production, soybeans are par-cooked and laid out in slabs about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. The beans are then inoculated with a fungus called Rhizopus oligosporus (don't get too freaked out...) and as it grows throughout the beans it produces the white binder you see holding the beans together. The now fermented beans are also broken down by the fungus in a way that helps make them more digestible. The result is a firm, nutty flavored bean cake with a pleasant texture.
1 C of apple juice or cider should be enough to cover the tempeh in a small sauce pan. If your juice doesn't quite cover the tempeh you can slice it thinner or simply turn it a few times while the juice is reducing. The tempe will be broken up in the end anyway so it just needs to be evenly cooked.
This recipe presents a good opportunity to practice knife skills. I call for a small dice for the apples, peppers, onions and sweet potatoes. I like about 1/4 inch dice (which I am calling small in the recipe) because this way it cooks up quickly and no one ingredient gets too mushy before the others are done cooking through. Perfection is not needed here just consistent size, and don't peel anything, just dice! A tip on dicing sweet potatoes is to start by slicing them into 1/4 inch rounds. Then lay the rounds flat either alone or stacked in two layers and cut 1/4 inch batons. Then cut 1/4 inch dice from the batons.
Use a firm eating apple as opposed to a baking apple so it won't fall apart. I used Keepsake apples but other good choices might be Honeycrisp, Fuji, Jazz, Braeburn, Gala, Cortland or many others. Also, make sure your pan is not too crowded or you will not get good browning. The picture above shows the space my dice had when I began. I used a nice big well seasoned cast iron pan for the hash.
When the apples, peppers, onions and sweet potatoes are browning nicely and the sweet potato is almost cooked through, the tempeh is added along with the spices for a few more minutes in the pan. Make sure you put your vent fan on high because the chipotle is going to spice things up in your kitchen for a while, possibly clearing your nasal passages in the process. When those sweet potatoes are just soft through and the tempeh has had a chance to brown a little, the hash is done. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Pair the hash up with avocado, lime and a hot cup of coffee.
Chipotle Apple Tempeh Hash
- 4 Oz Tempeh
- 1 C apple juice or cider
- 1 C apple, small dice
- 1/2 C poblano pepper, small dice
- 1/2 C sweet potato, small dice
- 1/2 C onion, small dice
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 Tsp chipotle pepper, ground (smoked red jalapeno)
- 1/8 Tsp coriander, ground
- 1/8 Tsp cumin, ground
- 1/8 Tsp dried sage, ground
- Pinch clove, ground
- Salt and pepper to your taste
Slice the tempeh into 1/2 inch thick strips and combine with the apple juice or cider in a small sauce or saute pan. Over medium heat, reduce the juice with the tempeh until it is completely absorbed. If the tempeh is not completely submerged to begin with, make sure to turn the pieces so they cook evenly on both sides. Use a spoon or fork to break up the pieces into roughly 1/2 inch chunks or smaller after cooking.
While the tempe is cooking, begin to dice the apple, poblano, sweet potato and onion and combine in a bowl. Measure the chipotle, coriander, cumin, dried sage and clove into a small dish. Keep an eye on the tempeh as it reduces. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and diced mixture to the pan and stir to distribute evenly. As you occasionally stir the mixture, modulate the heat so it remains fairly hot but doesn't begin to burn the dice or smoke the oil. Keep the dice spread out in the pan to help it brown.
When you see the mixture getting browned, test if the sweet potatoes are soft through. When they are done add the tempeh and the spice mixture to the pan. Reduce the heat initially as you add the spices to reduce irritation from the chipotle. Continue to stir until the tempeh is also beginning to brown. Remove the hash from the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with avocado and lime wedges.
Yield: Two servings.
The hash will keep best for about three days in the refrigerator.