In Dinners, Food, Health, Lifestyle, Recipes by Gemma Tomlinson3 Comments

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I’ve been vegetarian for almost eighteen years so I have to hold my hands up here and admit that I have never (that I remember at least) had things like steak, ribs, or pulled pork. Having grown up without these, I don’t exactly crave them now that I don’t eat meat. I do, however, have a keen meat-eater in the form of my boyfriend Matt, and whilst he is probably the most accommodating person when it comes to eating veggie food I cook, I find it really interesting to hear his critique of veggie meat substitutes. Veggie bacon? Tastes like cardboard according to Matt, and he prefers grilled paneer to tofu any day, but the one thing we were both sure you could never replicate was a steaming hot plate of BBQ pulled pork. A few days ago I was cutting up some leftover artichokes to put in a pasta salad and as they tore apart in that stringy way I wondered aloud if they might work as a substitute. Matt quickly vetoed that idea with a look that said “you have NO IDEA” and I carried on with my pasta salad. Five minutes later he burst into the kitchen with an iPhone full of straight-from-google info and a shopping list. We were making vegan pulled pork.

Here’s where I really have to credit this post, where we got our initial idea – although we tweaked that recipe and did a few extras to make it more pork-like, with my trust taste tester at my side. The magical ingredient here is jackfruit, a fruit native to S & SE Asia which has about 95 calories per 100g and is rich in protein and vitamin C. It is a fleshy fruit that really mimics stringy meat in a way nothing else can. To make this amount of “pulled pork” we used one can of young green jackfruit, which you can get in oriental supermarkets or specialist shops. We got ours from Wing Yip who have huge stores in Manchester, Birmingham, Croydon and London and it was under £1 per can which makes this great value for money to boot. The important thing here is to make sure you buy your jackfruit in water or brine, not syrup! This is crucial!

To start we drained our can of jackfruit and rinsed it under the tap until we had got rid of the brine. Then, placing the fruit on a chopping board, we cut out the tough triangular inner core, similar to pineapple, to leave the soft outer flesh.
Sautee one chopped onion with a little garlic and olive oil in a pan for about ten minutes, or until the onions soften and release their flavour.
Whilst the onions are cooking add your rinsed fleshy jackfruit (core removed) to a bowl and stir in the following seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of mild chilli powder.

Once your jackfruit is coated (and your onions have softened) add the jackfruit to the pan and cook for five minutes or so with the onions, stirring occasionally.
Mix half a cup of BBQ sauce with 1/4 cup of water (I recommend using the bowl you used for your spices so you get the rest of them out of there) and once the jackfruit has been cooking for five minutes, add your sauce to the pan. Simmer on a low heat, covering the pan for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 20 minutes when the jackfruit is nice and tender and the BBQ sauce has reduced, use a fork to pull apart the jackfruit until you get a pork-like consistency. Transfer the mixture to a greased baking sheet and place in the oven for 10-20 minutes at 200 degrees celsius or until the desired texture is reached. The jackfruit tastes good out of the pan but we decided to follow our inspiration post’s instructions and oven bake to give it a chewier, meatier texture. We ended up leaving ours in for twenty minutes and checked it frequently, turning over the mixture to crisp it evenly.
Once you’re happy with the texture it’s time to serve it! This is great in a bun, on top of nachos, or in burritos!
I may not have had the real deal before, but this was delicious and completely wowed Matt, who is no lover of meat substitutes. He said he definitely wouldn’t question this if someone served it to him as part of a meal, but if he was to try it alone he might ask if the pork had been cooked differently. A pretty resounding success and he said it was “pretty much spot on” – I’m happy with that! As well as being vegan and vegetarian this is also great for anyone looking to lessen their intake of meat and since this is made from fruit, it’s a great alternative! Let me know if you try this! I’m sure it will be a firm favourite in our household from now on!

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