Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Turkey Gangs, Tempeh Pangs

Important matters first:


Brookline is notorious for its wandering gangs of turkeys. I think they're all part of the same gang - they all where the same red dangly thing under their beaks. Sources tell me they call it a wattle. Like the Crips, they've got a signature walk, too - they call it a waddle. These turkey-gang jokes doin' anything for ya? Anyway, Brookline is collectively unaffected by their presence. Last year I was on my bike waiting at the light on the corner of Longwood and the Riverway while I watched a turkey lazily sip from a giant puddle in the road not three feet from my tire. I desperately looked around, pleading with my eyes: "Is anyone seeing this?" If they did, they didn't care. I thought it was adorable, though I guess I'm lucky it didn't wind up and charge me - these B'line Turks have a penchant for attacking passers-by (for serious).

Anyway, this was the scene next door to my apartment yesterday at 7:30am. Had a not literally just rolled out of bed, I'd have gotten better pictures. But these hoods were trying to sidle their way through the gates of the luxe apartments. Was I witnessing some sort of Tony/Maria romantic rendezvous? All I know is the real drama is in what's not pictured - a basketball-sized hawk that was perched directly above these birds, repeatedly dive-bombing the interlopers. Police on the scene dispelled the violence within the hour (again, for serious).

After all that nature-drama, my human affairs hardly seem so important. But for the record, it's been a busy month. Too busy to cook, actually, and too busy to write about... not cooking. But I've been socializing (gasp!), working on some other projects, and applying to grad school, which has made for a lot of eating out and taking out. I've missed my kitchen. I got back to the pots and pans the other days and made of a dish with pretty much the last of what was in my fridge and pantry before the grocery shopping threat entered Code Orange. Tempeh had been kicking around aimlessly for awhile, and I had a jar of chutney that's been with me at least since my move from Dorchester. I can't remember why I bought, or what prompted me to buy something so out of character, but its flavor was desperately needed in the wake of NOTHING ELSE TO COOK WITH. Though not as healthful and a bit too fussy for my usual tastes, it made a pretty darn tasty main dish. I was never a fan of tempeh (its worst incarnation is the form of tempeh bacon... ew...) but lemme tell ya, the boiling step opened up a whole new world. It softens to texture and flavor like a dream. Me and the Big T, we're friends now.

Mango Chutney-Glazed Tempeh

1 8-oz package tempeh
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
pinch of cumin
dash of hot sauce
1/2 cup jarred chutney (like Major Grey's, or I had Trader Joe's stuff on hand)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375.

Take a shallow pot or saucepan and fill it with enough water to cover the tempeh. Bring the water to a boil, add the tempeh, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the water, remove the tempeh, and cut into strips.

Whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, cumin and hot sauce. Pour over the tempeh (a shallow baking dish works well here) and marinate for 20 minutes. Bake the tempeh for twenty minutes on one side, then turn and bake for another ten minutes.

While the tempeh bakes, whisk together half the water with the cornstarch. In a saucepan over very low heat, add the chutney. When it start to melt, add the water/cornstarch mixture and whisk in quickly. Stir almost constantly over low heat, gradually adding the rest of the water. The glaze will thicken and turn shiny. Whisk in more water if it thickens too much. Serve over the tempeh. I made a meal of this with a side of dal and naan. Some sliced mango here would be ridiculously good.


Michelle said...

Oh neat, I keep wanting to love tempeh and every time I try it, I'm like, Eh. Maybe this will be the recipe to break the spell. And Whole Foods has been selling these cute little yellow specialty mangoes on sale for 2 for $1.50...they are delicious.

Chris @ Beyond Ramen said...

What a harrowing turkey tale (never thought I'd say that)! The mango chutney glaze sounds like a great way to brighten up normally musky tempeh.

Best of luck in all your new endeavors!

Andrew said...

Turkey gangs... give me hunger pangs. How about some tofurkey? That tempeh was tasty... thanks again for feeding me!

Steck's Blog said...

Turkeys :)