The Potato Chip Sandwich

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That’s right. You [subvocally] heard me. The. Potato. Chip. Sandwich.

You know you’re a vegetarian / vegan when you’re at a BBQ and all you can eat are potato chips and burger buns. At least at BBQs in the 90s, when Boca Burgers were the only meatless alternative and a rare and gag-inducing sight. I absolutely hated those rubbery discs of afterthought, but if I spotted one forgotten in the back of some grill, I choked it down for the sake of vegetarians everywhere. There was no way in hell I could reject the only food offering to my kind, however sad that offering was, and especially under the watchful eye of adults fascinated by my “inadequate” diet.

But back to the potato chips. A King’s Hawaiian bun, some Lay’s barbecue chips, a slice of store brand American cheese—maybe a tomato slice if some parent gave me the side-eye for my indiscretion—and I was happy as an unharvested clam. I was working with what I had, and what I had at a BBQ was a seemingly delightful departure from the typical baingan bharta or hot and numbing tofu I got at home. Children are clearly insane when it comes to food preferences. In any case, crunchy, salty-sweet potato chips and that soft, flimsy bun made a memorable match for a kid like me.

These days my food preferences have evolved and barbecues seem to be replete with veggie burgers of every variety. I eat them and thank the vegan Dogs for my bounteous options, but I’ll be damned if I leave potato chips off the sandwich. So, without further adieu, I present the potato chip sandwich.

This flavorful beast pays homage to potato chip sandwich eaters around the planet, as well as those who love two of the most beautiful creations in the food world: Zapp’s Voodoo chips and Crystal hot sauce. Why are they so amazing? I love Crystal hot sauce because it adds intensity without superseding the flavors of the dish I add it to, and Zapp’s Voodoo chips are a super crunchy hybrid of BBQ and salt n’ vinegar; need I say more? Hearty bread, a slather of my caramelized onion & pecan jam, creamy avocado, peppery arugula, robustly flavored tempeh steaks, and a heap of crunchy potato chips make an ultra-satisfying sandwich for when you need a compromise between adulting and regressing to the simpler desires of your inner child.

The Potato Chip Sandwich

Makes 4 sandwiches

  • Eight slices of your favorite bread
  • A batch of my vidalia onion and pecan jam
  • A few handfuls of baby arugula
  • 4 tempeh “steaks”
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 tbs lemon juice
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Zapp’s Voodoo chips (or your favorite potato chip)
  • Crystal hot sauce for topping (optional)

Tempeh Steaks

  • One 8 ounce package of tempeh
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs + 1 tsp vinegary hot sauce (Crystal Hot Sauce if you can get it)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs miso paste
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Crush or mince the garlic, zest your lemon, and then put it in a small bowl with the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth. Cut the tempeh in half—you’ll have two tempeh squares—and then take each square and carefully slice it in half, so you get four thinner squares. Place the four slabs in a sandwich bag or container and pour the marinade over them, making sure to evenly coat each piece. Place in the fridge for a minimum of two, and up to 24, hours. You can shake the bag every once in a while to distribute the marinade more evenly, but it’s not a must.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place each slab on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip each slab, coat with extra marinade (what’s leftover in the bag), and bake for another 10 minutes.

Sandwich Assembly 

Peel and pit the avocados, then place in a bowl with the lemon juice and black pepper and mash with a fork. For each sandwich, spread the mashed avocado on one slice of bread and a generous portion of the onion jam on the other slice of bread. Place a tempeh steak on one of the bread slices, then pile the arugula and voodoo chips on top of it. Place the other slice of bread on top and gently press down so you crush the chips a bit. Eat immediately so the chips don’t get soggy. If you’re making sandwiches for later, leave the chips off until right before you eat.

Notes

  • Bread recommendations: sourdough, ciabatta, marble rye, or a nice multi-seed.
  • Toast your bread or leave it soft; it’s your sandwich and you can do what you want.
  • Feel free to experiment with additional or substitute toppings: in-season tomatoes, different lettuces, sprouts, a pepper jelly…
  • Need subs for tempeh? You can try tofu, or even seitan. I originally tested this recipe using tofu, but tempeh is a far superior product when it comes to marinating. Tofu won’t absorb nearly as much flavor.
  • Feeling monstrously hungry? Instead of cutting your tempeh into four thinner steaks, make two monster sammies by cutting you tempeh into two thicker steaks before marinating!

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