My family used to host an annual Labor Day party. It was the best time - we had a big backyard to play corn hole, music, and a fire pit to roast marshmallows when the sun went down.
I'll never forget the year I came home for the party, one week into my freshman year at college. I went to the bathroom, and there was a pig. In the bath tub.
My parents had purchased a whole pig and a pig-sized roaster grill for our BBQ. Normally they would simply get the ready-made pulled pork from the nearby farm, not the actual pig... but this year they decided to go all out.
Not only did we roast the pig, but we put a tiara on it, dressed it up, cooked it, took photos with it, chopped it up, and then ate it. And then took more photos with its head.
THE FORWARD STORY
I cannot believe I am sharing these photos with you. It's a little embarrassing, okay a lot embarrassing, but for me it's a reminder that we can always choose again. I distinctly remember saying, "I could never give up meat," but 2007 Morgan had absolutely zero idea that 2018 Morgan would be living her best life without animal products for almost 7 years! And this is not to say that everyone needs to "give up" meat 100%, but there are certainly some VERY compelling reasons why we should all be eating less of it. And focus on eating more plants. That's for sure!
So while I may not necessarily be proud of kissing a dead pig on the cheek, I'm also so incredibly happy that I get to show you my NEW favorite ways to enjoy "pulled pork" with all the flavor, texture, deliciousness and satisfaction - and WITHOUT the cruelty, violent death, saturated fat, clogged arteries, environmental destruction, greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and excessive water consumption... to name a few!
TRULY, these "alternatives" are much less about "giving up" your favorite foods, but rather about trying new amazing foods that you love and incorporating them more often!
not meat... jackfruit!
I should add that a big reason why our annual Labor Day bash was my favorite (besides the people, place, and weather of course), was because of the food. I LOVE barbecue pulled pork and coleslaw. It's forever attached to my memories of Labor Day parties past. Food is often so much more involved than we realize - there are traditions, memories, emotions, and attachments that are all wrapped up in our food as well. I totally get it. Pulled pork IS that for me!
So, I hope you trust me when I say that THIS IS BETTER!!!
I wanted to compare two ways to use real, whole, plant-based ingredients to create a shredded texture and slather in BBQ.
What are our two ingredients, you ask?
1) Jackfruit - the young, green/unripe flesh of the Asian jackfruit can be found canned, in water. It has almost an artichoke-like texture out of the can, and as you cook it, begins to fall apart and look and feel like shredded meat. It's essentially flavorless, so by adding all of the same flavors one might use for barbecued pork, it begins to look, taste, and feel so similar that it's almost freaky. Fun fact: Jackfruit, when ripe, tastes very tropical, somewhere between mango, banana and pineapple, and apparently it's what the chewing gum Juicy Fruit is supposed to taste like (if it wasn't made of corn syrup and yellow number 5).
2) King Oyster Mushrooms - these mushrooms are so versatile in plant-based cooking! I've used them to make vegan scallops and now pulled pork. As you can see in the photos below, I used a fork to shred the long trunk of the mushroom. I didn't want to waste the caps so I chopped them up small and added them into the mix. I cooked the shredded mushroom the same way as I did the jackfruit - with spices and seasonings that create that familiar smoky flavor.
Sorry to disappoint, but to be honest, I wasn't really looking for a "winner" because having two options for vegan pulled pork makes ME the real winner!
But out of the involved taste-testers, all three of us all leaned toward the jackfruit as our maybe-favorite. The mushrooms are chewier and didn't come quite as close to the "real thing" as the jackfruit does. Mostly, I felt like the jackfruit really filled the sandwich while the mushrooms flattened and the sandwich became too bread-y. Side note: I actually prefer a lettuce wrap over a bun, but this was a showdown not a show and tell.
All in all, they are both amazing and I will definitely be incorporating both into my cooking in the future!
In the meantime, enjoy drooling over these photos of the final product. We certainly enjoyed eating them and judging this showdown!!
I have since created the BBQ jackfruit recipe of all recipes. And I truly mean that - I've been cooking with this stuff for almost 5 years and it's come a long way! Five years ago, there was literally like 2 or 3 BBQ jackfruit recipes on the internet - now there are probably hundreds! I've played with it a lot, and sometimes added store-bought BBQ sauce when I really didn't want to because it's loaded with sugar. I've figured it out!! Click here for my BBQ JACKFRUIT RECIPE!