On Saturday we attended the 2015 Diner en Blanc (White Dinner) Twin Cities. As always, it was a beautiful, magical, welcoming, classy, and immensely fun event. Throngs of people outfitted in summer whites seated in rows of lovely white tablescapes noshed on meals and sipped drinks that ranged from simple to extravagant. Much mingling and merriment followed, along with the traditional sparklers being waved as darkness fell.
This year’s location was Raspberry Island, a pretty spot in the middle of the Mississippi River with stunning St. Paul skyline views providing an amazing backdrop for an enchanting experience and a perfect evening. I can’t wait for next year!
While planning for this year’s dinner, I reviewed countless recipes suitable for a picnic before coming up with our menu. One recipe, while not really appropriate because it’s best served hot, intrigued me so much that I made it for a meal at home.
BBQ Pulled “Pork.” Yes, you read that correctly. And the best part of all it’s not some wheat meat or soy based meat substitute. Made from young, unripe jackfruit (an Asian tree fruit, sort of similar to hearts of palm), this has the texture and flavor of the real thing without all the fat, calories, and cholesterol. You’ll want to use the unripe or young jackfruit because it lacks the sweetness of the ripe fruit. Look for it packed in brine or water, rather than syrup. I ordered it first through a secondary supplier on Amazon, but the cans arrived seriously dented. They did send another order, this time packed better, with only one of six cans dented. But more recently, I found it at Dragon Star Oriental Foods in St. Paul and I’m sure it’s available at other Asian markets, as well, and it’s very inexpensive.
Drain and rinse the jackfruit and cut off the core (the triangular tip) from the flesh and discard it. It seems like a lot of waste, but it is necessary. If you compost, that should lessen any guilt you might feel.
I made this again on Father’s Day for a family gathering and it was a hit. You can use bottled barbeque sauce or your own favorite recipe. I don’t like a really sweet sauce and found Trader Joe’s Sriracha BBQ Sauce absolutely wonderful—good and spicy, but not overly sweet (you might want to skip the cayenne if you use this sauce).
Serve pulled “pork” on good quality toasted whole wheat buns with toppings of your choice—my favorite being a tangy coleslaw, but pickled onions, pineapple, and kimchi are other options. I’ve never had “real” pulled pork, but I can’t imagine how it could be any better tasting than this. Enjoy!
Barbequed Pulled Pork
2 cans young green jackfruit in water or brine
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoke salt (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup barbeque sauce (bottled or homemade—your choice)
1/2 cup water
Toppings of your choice—coleslaw, pickled onions, pineapple, kimchi, etc.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (5-7 minutes).
Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a strainer. Cut the core of the jackfruit (the triangular tip) from the flesh and discard the core.
Mix chili powder, cumin, smoke salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Add in the jackfruit flesh and toss to coat.
Add seasoned jackfruit to the skillet with the onions and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes.
Whisk the barbeque sauce and water together. Pour into the skillet with the jackfruit. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Remove the lid from the skillet and shred the jackfruit with a fork. Continue to simmer with the lid off for 5-10 minutes or until the barbeque sauce is reduced.
Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 20 about minutes; this makes the texture more “pork” like.
Serve mounded on toasted buns with garnishes of choice. Makes 6-8 servings.