In honor of the 4th of July, this month I'm sharing my favorite All-American recipes. To kick us off, I'm going to show you how to make a super easy Vegan Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich.
Before we begin...
A little vocabulary lesson: I'm from North Carolina, and though I may not have the accent, I certainly use a few funny words and phrases. For example:
- Cook-out = Barbecue (NC) (not to be confused with Cook-Out, the home of the worlds most diverse selection of milkshakes)
- Pulled-pork = BBQ (not to be confused with Barbecue above)
If you've been around a while, you know I love making vegan versions of my favorite comfort foods. Third time's the charm with this one. Yes, you read that correctly. I ate BBQ for three weeks in a row to get this one right. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it...
Your official intro to NC Cuisine
Pulled-"pork," jackfruit, or vegan BBQ)
If you're new to the vegan game, let me introduce you to your new BFF, Jackfruit. It's a tropical fruit used in many desserts in SouthEast Asia, but the "young" green version has a stringy texture similar to pulled pork when cooked correctly. To save yourself some trouble, I recommend buying it in brine (I use this brand, but you can find it canned at Trader Joe's. I'd be shocked if Whole Foods doesn't have it)
Let's talk sauce
Now, there are two kinds of BBQ sauce in NC: Eastern sauce (ENC) and everything else. The rivalry is intense, think UNC vs Duke in basketball, or Army vs Navy. Before all your Eastern NC'ers send me to Raleigh, I tried this with the ENC vinegar based sauce first, but it just didn't work with the jackfruit. However, I did use a "Carolina" BBQ sauce, though I know if it contains ketchup, it isn't "real" NC sauce. The jackfruit will absorb the flavors of a great sauce. And there are so many good sauces in grocery stores these days! Feel free to make your own if you want...
Slaw for the win
A BBQ sandwich without coleslaw is like a PB&J without the J. Bonnie without Clyde, Batman without Robin. You get the point. Good coleslaw is essential to a great BBQ sandwich. It really doesn't have to be anything special, just don't over-do it with the mayo, and you'll be fine. For me, the simpler, the better!
Don't forget the bun!
The final component of an excellent Vegan Jackfruit BBQ Sandwich is the bun. This is crucial. The bun can make or break this sandwich. The Chief Taste Tester and I agree that a Kaiser roll is best (we like the slider size), but a pretzel bun is also acceptable. Do yourself a favor and pick something up from your local bakery, even the bakery in your grocery store will do. You'll thank me later.
You'll notice the recipe below is pretty simple. And that's the way BBQ should be. No crazy spice mixes, no insane cooking methods.
I'm serving up NC BBQ mains and sides all month! Check out the rest:
- TBD (cough it rhymes with snack n ease cough)
- TBD (suggestions?)
- TBD (dessert!!)
For the BBQ:
- 22 oz jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce - ideally something ketchup based
- 1 package coleslaw veggies (usually shredded cabbage and carrots)
- ½ c vegan mayo
- 1 tsp celery seeds (optional)
- 2 pinches salt
- 1-2 T apple cider vinegar (or ENC vinegar sauce if you have it)
- Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare pot of boiling water. Drain and rinse the jackfruit, then boil for 10 mins.
- Meanwhile, prep the onions and garlic. When jackfruit is almost done, sauté the onion in a large pan. Once onions start to soften (mine were a little brown), add the garlic and cook until aromatic, being careful to stir so the garlic doesn't burn.
- When jackfruit is finished, drain and add to the onion/garlic pan. Let cook for another couple mins.
- Then add BBQ sauce. Stir until coated, then let simmer for 10-15 mins on low.
- Meanwhile, prepare sheetpan for the oven with either foil or a silicon pad. When BBQ had simmered long enough, transfer to the pan and let cool until you can handle with your hands.
- THIS STEP IS CRUCIAL: some pieces of jackfruit may be hard - remove those while keeping the soft stringy pieces that look like pulled pork. I removed ~8-10 pieces, and a few seeds too. USE YOUR HANDS! If the texture doesn't seem right, give it a taste. Worst case, you get mediocre bite of BBQ and know to look for other similar pieces. Go by feel here. If you have kids, this could be a fun "hands-on" activity.
- Once quality control is complete, let cook in the oven for 20-30 mins.
Coleslaw: Whisk mayo, salt, vinegar, and celery seeds in a small bowl. Add to coleslaw veggie mix and stir well.
Bun: wrap in foil and throw in the oven for the last 10 mins with the BBQ. They'll be toasty warm when they come out, and ready to soak up all the BBQ goodness!