My mostly-vegetarian teenage son has been trying to get me to make BBQ Pulled Jackfruit for some time now. After putting it off for as long as possible, because first of all what the hello is jackfruit and upon explanation, Bleh! why would some weird, huge fruit related to figs be able to actually taste like pulled MEAT?! But recently (sorry for digression) I finally bought a couple cans at Trader Joe’s (you can also get it at most Asian markets) and made his day when I told him I was going to give it a shot (still with skepticisim). Aaaand… let’s just say- upon tasting the pulled jackfruit, my husband would’ve thought he was eating a regular, tender, juicy, pulled PORK sandwich if he hadn’t known that Ryan would not be eating it if it contained meat. And this skeptic actually LOVED it and now would urge you to give it a try even if you are not vegan or vegetarian. Here are my fantastic reasons; it will totally fill your craving for a nice barbecued pulled meat sandwich; it’s a cinch! to make, saving you tons of slow cooking and shredding time that’s required to get a big hunk of meat fall-apart tender; and the calorie comparison is crazy-significant. Jackfruit only has 45 calories in a one cup serving (without the sauce and seasonings). Pork shoulder has nearly 400 calories for the same amount.
Here’s what the jackfruit looks like right out of the can. Some of the pieces don’t exactly shred. Leave them in because they’re still super tender and won’t deter from the pulled texture. There might be a couple of pieces that look like seeds (probably are the seeds). Again, just leave them. Really, you’re gonna be pleasantly surprised.
I shred the jackfruit with my hands, as I do for any pulled or shredded meat. Here it is after shredding and with the seasonings, for even more flavor, before pouring in the barbecue sauce. If using store-bought, use a good one. If you’d like to make your own, I have a fabulous recipe for barbecue sauce. If the link for that recipe is too involved for you but you still want to make homemade, this Neely’s BBQ Sauce Recipe is the easiest and one of the best I’ve ever made.
Seriously, doesn’t this look like the real deal? And it tastes delicious as well. With how easy BBQ Pulled Jackfruit is to make, you can offer an option to your non-meat-eater friends at the next cook out or Super Bowl party- or serve it for anyone looking to trim their waistline but still satisfy that messy, smoky, barbecue craving. This recipe makes a good quantity and the leftovers tasted just as great reheated several times over during the week (my son ate one every day after school until it was gone). I’m going to try it for shredded taco filling next. Stay tuned for that.
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BBQ Pulled Jackfruit
- 2 cans Young green jackfruit, in water or brine. 15-oz. cans
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 Teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon cumin
- 1-2 Tablespoons mild cooking oil, avocado or canola works great
- 1 small white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, homemade or store bought, plus extra if more is desired
- For the Jackfruit: Rinse, drain, and thoroughly dry the canned jackfruit. Using kitchen shears, cut up the pieces of jackfruit a bit. It will break up in the pan, but this step helps. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the dry barbecue seasonings, add the jackfruit and toss to combine.
- In a large skillet, add mild oil and heat to medium. Once oil is hot, add the onion and cook until just beginning to caramelize. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the seasoned jackfruit and cook for 5 miutes, until it begins to get some color. Begin to break it up with the back of a spoon. It won't break up completely here but just kind of soften apart.
- Remove the jackfruit from the heat and let cool until you can touch it with your hands. Using your hands or two forks, start to pull apart the jackfruit to shred it. Some of the smaller pieces won't shred, that is totally fine. They're still tender and will be great.
- Start with one cup of barbecue sauce and mix with the shredded, seasoned jackfruit. Add more if you want the mixture more "saucy". Cook, stirring, just until heated through.
- Serve topped with more barbecue sauce, coleslaw, pickles, and red onions, either on a bun, over rice, or in a tortilla.
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