For many transitioning to plant-based, vegan or vegetarian diets giving up meat could be very difficult, especially during the summer months of outdoor grilling and the good ol’ BBQ. So, it’s no wonder that many recipe developers have been interested in capturing some of the BBQ flavors and channeling them into plant-based dishes.
Few weeks ago I reviewed one of the newest cookbooks dedicated entirely to vegan grilling, and I am currently going over the vegan butcher’s cookbook. Almost every one of these cookbooks as well as many vegan blogs and recipe aggregators include at least one vegan pulled “pork” recipe that uses green young jackfruit to recreate the look and feel of pulled pork. Jackfruit BBQ pulled pork recipe was even featured on TODAY.com as one of the biggest food trends of 2017!
I’ve been using jackfruit for over a year now, and have tried couple of different pulled pork recipes. They left me a bit underwhelmed, and I put the idea of BBQ pulled jackfruit on a side burner. And that’s where it stayed until very recently when I decided that it’s time to tackle this challenge again.
The recipe I came up with is slow cooker based and it takes about six hours to make. First, I combined lots of finely chopped onions and finely grated carrots to give the BBQ lots of natural sweetness. To help the aromas develop, I mixed the onions and carrots with oil and tomato paste and cooked them in the microwave oven for six minutes or so, until almost fully softened and slightly caramelized.
Next, I pulled the drained and rinsed jackfruit before cooking. I discarded all the very tough bits and pulled the rest apart with my fingers.
For smokiness and flavor, I added molasses, mesquite powder, and some sauce from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. This sauce is super spicy so go easy with it, or replace it with some smoked paprika, or liquid smoke. I like a bit of a kick so this sauce (in moderation) works for me. The mesquite powder is something that you may need to order online (I got this brand from Amazon), but it is worth having on hand. It’s a powder that adds nice nutty and subtly smokey flavor to baked goods, desserts, and now “pulled” pork.
The slow cooker did all the work once I mixed everything together. The main pro tip when using a slow cooker (crock pot) is to use a liner to help with clean up. Other than that – you mix all the ingredients, put the lid on, turn on high for several hours, and you are done!
The pulled jackfruit really delivered! The sweetness and the heat from the adobo sauce combined to give this all sort of happy balance. Jackfruit turned out soft and very much like pulled pork in texture, while onions and carrots have almost melted into the final sauce, which is exactly what I wanted.
Spicy and Smokey BBQ Pulled “Pork” Jackfruit
What you’ll need:
1-2 yellow onions, finely diced
3 large carrots, finely grated
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons canola (or other neutral taste) oil
3 10 oz (280 g) cans green, young jackfruit in brine (drained, rinsed and pulled apart)
1/4 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
2 tablespoons mesquite powder
What you’ll do:
- Mix diced onion, finely grated carrots, oil and tomato paste in a microwave safe bowl. Put in the microwave for 6-8 minutes until onions start to caramelize.
- While the onion and carrot mix is caramelizing and softening, drain and rinse the jackfruit then use your fingers to pull apart all the soft bits while discarding the tough pieces of core.
- Line the slow cooker with a liner, add the pulled jackfruit, onion and carrot mix, and the rest of the ingredients. Please note that adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce is very smokey and very spicy, so you may want to dial down or dial up (if you are really adventures!) according to taste. If you rather not have the heat, you could use some smoked paprika and/or a teaspoon of liquid smoke.
- Cover the slow cooker, and turn it on to high heat for 5-6 hours.
- Serve the BBQ pulled “pork” in a hamburger bun, with some mashed potatoes, coleslaw, grilled corn, or any of other of your favorite sides. The BBQ pulled “pork” would also go really well with some freshly made cornbread, and you can always pour on some of your favorite BBQ sauce for that “finger lickin’ good” feel!
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