All Hail the Queen of Vegan Barbecue: Jackfruit.
This massive, spikey bomb lookin’ fruit is so good in barbecue form that my Dad uttered “you could fool a redneck with this stuff” after eating a few bites.
That’s coming from a guy who’s maybe tried three vegan restaurants in his lifetime – trust me, its been my lifelong goal to get veggie food into his mouth without him knowing it’s vegan. Sorry not sorry, Dad. One day I’ll have you completely fooled when I get an Impossible Burger into your mouth :)
Anyways, back to the barbecue! While I do love jackfruit, I can confidently say that not many places do it right – in my opinion at least. Far too often, the jackfruit comes out way mushier than any pork would ever be. The key is to achieving jackfruit that’s flavorful, a ‘lil crispy on the outside, and perfectly tender & chewy on the inside is to stop treating it like pork and start treating it like the fruit that it is.
See, jackfruit and pork are fundamentally different. For one, jackfruit has almost no fat in it, whereas pork shoulder or “Boston butt” that’s used for pulled pork is about 20% fat. 100 grams of jackfruit has 1.7 grams of protein whereas 100 grams of pork shoulder has 23 grams of protein. And one massive difference between the two is that pork shoulder contains a large amount of connective tissue whereas jackfruit contains none – well, because it’s a fruit.
The reason barbecued meats are cooked low & slow is to break down that connective tissue into collagen and gelatin, which in turn makes the meat “finger licking good” (I hate to say it just as much as you hate to read it). If you threw the ribs onto a grill for 20 minutes and that’s it, there would still be a large amount of connective tissue in them, meaning they’d be so tough they might just pull your tooth out.
Now, because it’s implanted in us that barbecue needs to be cooked “low and slow,” so many people often braise jackfruit in a liquid for a long period of time, and while this can be delicious, it’s just going to make something that’s already kind of mushy really mushy. What we really want to do with jackfruit is to extract moisture from it, not add more to it. Because jackfruit has no connective tissue to convert into collagen and no fat to melt away, there’s no reason to cook it for a long period of time. All we need to do is cook it for long enough that a light crust forms on the surface and so that a fair amount of moisture is extracted.
To accomplish this, we look no further than a tool that almost every American household has: an oven! With only thirty minutes, you can make jackfruit so fucking delicious it’ll fool your pops into believing it’s pork – I’m speaking from experience with my own stubborn, meat-eating Dad.
I’ve always wanted to get my hands on a whole, unripe jackfruit, but unfortunately, most of the ones that appear in Oriental markets are already ripe, meaning they’re golden and sweet on the inside. Plus, disassembling one of those things probably requires the use of a small chainsaw. Ultimately, we’re left with two main options to get our jackfruit from: a box with an aluminum foil pouch containing the jackfruit on the inside, or from a can.
No doubt, most of you guys are probably more familiar with the canned version than the boxed version. However, the boxed version may just be my preferred choice in applications where you want a chewier end result, since it’s less mushy from the start. Canned variations are mushier because they’re stored in a liquid brine. The boxed version also tends to be darker in color and has no salt added. Either way you go, you’ll be happy with the results – we tried this recipe with both and liked each one as much as the other.
If you’ve had a poor experience with jackfruit in the past, we hope you’ll give it another chance. With the right cooking methods and seasonings, jackfruit is a fruit worthy of its hype.
All in all, this jackfruit is:
- NOT MUSHY
- A ‘lil crispy on the outside and pleasantly chewy & perfectly tender on the inside
- Extremely flavorful & “meaty”
- Reminiscent of BBQ pork
- Easy to make and only takes 45 minutes
If you like what your taste buds are tellin’ ya, leave behind a nice rating, share your thoughts with us in the comments, or show us your creations by tagging @noeggsorham on Instagram.
Go Forth & Get Jacked on Fruit,
Chewy BBQ Jackfruit + THE BEST SANDWICH EVER? (vegan, Plant Paradox-friendly & sugar-free)
As my Dad would say, 'it's good enough to fool a redneck.'
- 2 boxes or 2 cans of green jackfruit
- 1 1/2 tbsp Swerve
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp yellow mustard powder
- Pre-heat oven to 400° F and line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly coat foil with oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the spices.
- If using canned jackfruit, drain out all the brine. Then, toss your boxed or canned jackfruit with the spices until evenly coated.
- Spread jackfruit out on prepped cookie sheet, ensuring that each piece has space around it for even browning.
- Place in oven for 15 minutes, pull it out, stir it up/flip them over and place back in oven for 15 more minutes.
- Place all of the jackfruit plus 1/2 c of barbecue sauce into a saute pan over medium heat and lightly mash the jackfruit with a spatula while stirring it into the sauce.
- Once fully coated in sauce, serve with whatever desired sides you have in mind OR serve atop mac n cheese with coleslaw on top of that for the best barbecue platter you’ve ever felt good about eating.
- For the best barbecue sandwich you’ve EVER had, place a heap of mac n cheese on top of a toasted bun, top that with jackfruit, top that with coleslaw, drizzle on a little extra sauce, then cap it off with the top bun. Enjoy sinking your teeth into the sandwich of your dreams.