Vegan pulled pork? Meet Jackfruit! Why this unique fruit may be the latest and greatest meat replacement

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The ongoing evolution of the North American diet means that many of us are eating much less meat than ever before. For many, it may not even be a premeditated move.

Perhaps without even planning it, we are eating a meatless meal once or even twice a week because of high prices or healthier decisions. Whatever the case, vegetarian ideas for conventional meat recipes are becoming increasingly mainstream, with new and unusual ways of creating dishes that are as equally satisfying as their ‘meaty’ counterparts.

Meet jackfruit. Largely purchased in a canned form, this native Southeast Asian fruit is also grown in Florida and can be also be purchased fresh. It has vitamins A and C and minerals, calcium, potassium and iron. We were disappointed that it is not a source of protein, which would’ve deemed it a perfect meat replacement; however, it’s texture and use in many applications, including fresh, baked, boiled and fried, in both sweet and savoury recipes, as well as it’s comparable texture to meat, makes it a viable ingredient in vegetarian cooking.

This vegan version of a classic pulled pork recipe is a great meal option. Especially for those times when you just want something a little different. Although a unique meatless option, jackfruit does lack the nutritional value we usually aim for. But if you’re getting your protein from other sources during the day, this just might be a suitable treat to keep your meatless routine from becoming boring.

Pulled Jackfruit

2 Tbsp (20 mL) grapeseed oil

1/3 cup (75 mL) diced onion

1/2 tsp (2 mL) minced garlic

2 – 565 ml (20 oz) cans young green jackfruit in brine

1 cup (250 mL) prepared barbecue sauce

6 soft whole-grain or gluten free buns, halved

2 cups (500 mL) coleslaw

Drain the jackfruit in a strainer, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Trim any stem, core or hard triangular tips from the ends of each piece, if necessary. Place each piece of jackfruit on a cutting surface and use a fork to pull or cut each piece into strands. (You may opt to do this while you’re cooking the mixture in the saucepan, but if you value your expensive cookware as we do, you may instead choose this cutting board method).

Preheat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and minced onion. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the onion starts to become tender and translucent. Stir in the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Add the jackfruit and barbeque sauce. Stir to coat all pieces of jackfruit with the sauce. Simmer covered for 20 – 25 minutes.

Remove the lid for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has reduced and the jackfruit caramelized. Place on buns and top with coleslaw, if desired. Serve hot.

Special thanks to all our friends down at Jill’s Table, including super foodie and sommelier, Christie Pollard for introducing us to jackfruit and to Jill and her team for helping to keep us in-the-know about so many unique and amazing foods in this world! Check out Christie’s blog at www.corkandboard.com.

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