When was the last time you cooked with hot pepper jelly that claimed to be “hotter ‘n’ hell?”
Back in the day when I still clung to cream cheese as the last vestige of dairy in my life, I was quite fond of cream cheese and hot pepper jelly on bagels. Even now, I like the vegan version of that combination once and a while. But “hotter ‘n’ hell?” That requires something a bit more inventive.
When I first saw this jar at the Jamtastic booth on one of my routine farmers market trips, I had to try it. Ross, the mastermind behind every Jamtastic flavor, explained that it had twice the habenero of the original “Hot 4 Habenero” flavor. In my opinion, the original needed the upgrade to be spicy enough! I’m a lover of spicy food, so it takes a lot for me to think something is truly hot. I did not find this jam to be quite as zippy as the title promised, but it does have a delightful sweet strawberry flavor with an afterburn that sneaks up on you.
So, of course, I had to take it home and cook with it. Glazed tempeh, anyone?
To make this rather colorful cutlet, I took a tablespoon of jam and thinned it out with water until it was the consistency of a marinade. Then I put the tempeh in a saute pan, spooned the jam over it and cooked it until the sugars started to caramelize. Theoretically, I could have just eaten it like that as part of a meal, but why stop there when there’s still jam in the pan?
It turns out that onions also brown up quite well in spicy jam, turning a lovely golden color after a few minutes on high heat and a few more at a lower temperature. You have to stir them a lot, though; they’ll get too crispy otherwise! It’s taken me a while to get the hang of oil-free caramelized onions, but thanks to the Forks Over Knives cookbook and several batches of mujadara, I learned that it can be done.
Have I mentioned that lately I’ve been more of a fiend for greens than ever before? I’ve been scarfing down a half a pound of them at breakfast most days, usually sauteed with a bit of garlic or as part of a more elaborate dish with mung beans and Asian spices. (I really should post those recipes!) Thus it makes sense that the last thing to get the Jamtastic treatment was some chopped Swiss chard, although any greens will do. I’d imagine the combination of strawberry and spinach would be especially nice.
By now you’re probably wondering where I’m going with all of this. Well, if you put these components together with some toasted bread, they become a Spicy Strawberry Glazed Tempeh Sandwich!
What can I say besides — THIS WAS AMAZING. Yes, it deserves capital letters. The onions took up a lot of the sweet flavor of the jam, the greens got a little crispy around the edges and the tempeh added the earthy flavor you’d expect. It’s a combination that tastes great as an open-faced sandwich as pictured, in a full sandwich, on a burger bun, on a bagel, in a wrap…pretty much any way you want to serve it. Today at lunch I discovered that you can also use the jam to baste veggie burgers with delicious results!
Jamtastic’s Hotter ‘N’ Hell recipe is now used to make the Hot 4 Habenero strawberry jam. It’s just as spicy as Hotter ‘N’ Hell but branded under the original hot jam title. It can be found online and at farmers markets and select grocery stores in the Northeast. (And for the sake of disclosure — I did buy this particular jar of jam, and no, they don’t pay me to advertise. Their jams just are that great.)
So how about it? Are you ready to try a sandwich that’s “hotter ‘n’ hell?”
- 3 ounces tempeh, cut into a single thick cutlet
- 1T Jamtastic Hot 4 Habenero strawberry jam (or your favorite hot pepper jam)
- ½ cup onions, sliced
- 1½ cup greens (kale, chard, spinach, etc.), chopped
- 1 or 2 slices whole grain bread, toasted
- Put the jam in a measuring cup or small bowl and add water to create a thin marinade.
- Place the tempeh in a small saute pan over medium heat. Spoon some of the jam over the top. Cook, flipping occasionally and continuing to baste with jam, until browned on both sides, 8-10 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Toss the onions in the pan without cleaning it out. Turn the heat up to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until browned and beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions are soft and brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to the plate with the tempeh.
- Place the tempeh on one slice of bread, add the greens and top with the onions. Eat open-faced or place another slice of bread on top for a full sandwich. Serve with roasted potatoes or a big salad -- and remember, it's hot!