Pulled Pork can now be enjoyed by everyone! Vegetarian Pulled Pork is about as close to the real thing as you’re ever going to get!
This post and its photos were updated March 11, 2018.
If there is one thing I miss more than anything else in terms of eating meat, it’s pulled pork. I was a late bloomer when it comes to the wonderfulness that is pulled pork. I would guess that I was in my late twenties the first time I tasted it. And, even then, it didn’t become a regular thing for me.
When I got married though, my ex wife use to make pulled pork really well. She was a slow cooker genius – something I’ve never mastered. (To be honest, I’m afraid of it. There’s just something not right about letting food cook for hours and hours at a very low temperature. Is that just me?) UPDATE: Fast forward a few years later. I finally purchased a slow cooker and I’m loving it! Just another thing I have missed out on for so long.
Anyway, back to the pulled pork! I got the craving one Sunday afternoon for pulled pork about two years ago. Yes, I remember it well because John.e and I decided to go for a walk and we ended up dropping into a grocery store on our way back home.
At the deli/prepared foods counter, there was pulled pork. I decided to buy a small amount – My Lord! It was expensive! – and it was freakin’ delicious! I remember eating it just as it was – out of the container, no bun, no coleslaw, etc., which seems to be the common pairing with pulled pork. While I was shoveling the pork into my mouth, John.e commented on how good it smelled. I made it my mission to find a way he could have a vegetarian version.
I found one recipe online that I thought might work. Last summer, again on a Sunday afternoon, we boarded Toronto’s transit system and made our way to China Town. One of the ingredients needed for that pulled pork recipe was jackfruit. The recipe mentioned that China Town would be the best place to find it. And, we did! But, the recipe wasn’t clear on what type of jackfruit, so I ended up buying the canned in syrup type.
The recipe worked – it smelled great, it was stringy and deep orangey-red in colour – everything was present except the taste. It had a very sweet taste, which I really didn’t like. I prefer pulled pork to have some sweetness, but more a smoky, spicy, charred flavour. It took me a long time to realize that my error was buying canned jackfruit in syrup and not the one packed in water.
Jackfruit grows on trees and is oval shaped. The jackfruit is native to Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They have a thick and prickly green skin. When the jackfruit is opened, you will find the round fruit contained in ‘pockets’ in a fibrous interior. The flesh is pale yellow and tastes sweet and has a sweet odor.
Recently, wanting to try pulled pork again, I managed to find jackfruit canned in water rather than syrup. The difference was amazing! My cravings were satisfied. For those of you who have not tried a vegetarian version of pulled pork, I encourage you to do so. It’s healthier, extremely easy on the wallet, and if you don’t say anything, your family and/or guests might never know the difference. Oh, and there’s one other thing… vegetarian pulled pork takes 45 minutes from start to finish. 🙂
I remember well the days of my ex wife’s slow cooker and the pulled pork she used to make. I swear, as much as I have grown to love my slow cooker and it’s capabilities, there’s no way I could prepare pulled pork in 45 minutes flat! The vegetarian version is not only super tasty, super good for you, and super easy, but also, super fast in comparison to real pulled pork.
I still love to serve pulled pork on a bun with coleslaw. Because pulled pork should be messy, and by that, I mean dripping with sauce, the bun is a great vessel for keeping that sauce where it belongs – on it’s way to your mouth! If pulled pork is done right, it should be sweet and spicy. I tend to like it a little too spicy so that the addition of the coleslaw becomes necessary to help cool it down.
Of course, the coleslaw also adds a little crunch factor and helps to increase the “beefiness” or girth of the sandwich. All good things, really! I like to serve pulled pork – vegetarian or otherwise – with enough coleslaw to use as a side as well. Also, baked beans are really good as a side. And, since you’re already going to be eating well, why not add some french fries or really good kettle chips? I’m getting hungry all over again!
I’ve got a great recipe her for a vegetarian baked bean dish. Stovetop Homemade Vegetarian Baked Beans will surely impress and works extremely well with the Vegetarian Pulled Pork. And, because I talked so much about coleslaw, here’s the recipe for the slaw you see in the photos. My Homestyle Creamy Coleslaw is good on anything, especially a pulled pork sandwich! Enjoy!!
Vegetarian Pulled Pork
- 40 ounces canned jackfruit, packed in water, drained
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder, adjust for desired heat
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup bbq sauce, see notes
Begin by draining the jackfruit and rinsing well under cold water. Using your fingers, massage the jackfruit and break the pieces apart; set aside
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil, add the onion and jackfruit; sauté until the onion is slightly caramelized
Add the remaining ingredients and continue to sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Stir often because brown sugar will burn easily.
Once cooked, use a fork to press the remaining larger pieces of jackfruit so that the pieces fall apart and resemble the fibers of cooked pork.
Add one cup of your favourite bbq sauce and stir into the pork. Continue to cook until sauce is heated through.
When selecting a bbq sauce, remember that some bbq sauces are already sweet, so you might want to cut back on the brown sugar, but don't cut it out completely. Brown sugar is needed to help the jackfruit caramelize and brown. Ideally, look for a low-sugar or sugar-free bbq sauce.
As a side note, the longer you simmer the mixture, the deeper the flavour will be. Even though this dish is ready in 45 minutes, you can leave the "meat" to simmer for a longer period of time to intensify the flavour. If the mixture becomes dry, add 1 tablespoon of water and stir. Keeping the lid on the pan will help to keep the pork moist if you plan to simmer for a longer period of time.
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