BBQ Bourbon Jackfruit Sliders
Summer is my absolutely favorite food season because of all of the amazingly ripened fruits and vegetables available, from dark berries bursting with flavor to juicy tomatoes still on the vine. There’s no better way to celebrate summer fun and food than by having a huge cookout with your family, friends, and favorite people. It’s time to break out the boombox, curated summertime music playlists, and the jackfruit!
Yup, you heard me right! This summer, health doesn’t have to take a backseat to indulgence. This summer, let’s bench the burgers and let nature’s biggest fruit have its moment to shine. Jackfruit is the largest tree-growing fruit that grows in tropical environments. It takes some patience and a bit of muscle to get to the good parts of a jackfruit, but trust me it is SO worth it. Jackfruit provides so many amazing health benefits including antioxidants, dietary fiber, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and potassium.
When you go to a grocery store (I recommend an Asian or Carribean specialty market) to find jackfruit, you will come across it in two forms…the fresh, ripened version that is sold whole or in cuts, or the unripened canned version. Both versions are amazing, but have totally different uses. Ripe jackfruit is extremely sweet and tastes like the Juicy Fruit gum whose flavor it influenced and is great eaten raw, in smoothies, or desserts. Unripe jackfruit is best used in cooking, as it offers a bland base for meat-like dishes. Canned jackfruit is the absolute perfect base for these pulled “pork” sliders. Try out this recipe and everyone’s going to want you at their summer party!
This recipe yields about 2lbs of pulled “pork”. Seasonings are estimates, as I tend to season based on taste and often forget to measure. Feel free to start with less and add more based on taste.)
3 Cans of Green Jackfruit in Brine (do NOT use ripe or canned jackfruit in syrup in this recipe, it will come out way too sweet)
1 Bottle BBQ Sauce (aim for a spicy or smoky mesquite sauce, instead of a sweet version)
1 Large Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 - 1/2 Cup Bourbon (Find a good quality version! Bourbon is optional, but I liked the flavor it added to the sauce. Start with 1/4 cup, then taste to see if you’d prefer more.)
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 TBSP Cumin
1-2 Tsp Black Pepper
Note: This cooking preparation uses a slow cooker, because I thought it was a great way to let the jackfruit absorb the sauce flavors. I finished it in the oven for faster flavor absorption and did a quick broil to dry out the jackfruit and really get a “pork” like dry texture. If you don’t have a slow cooker or instant pot, feel free to use a large pot and follow the same cooking method. Just simmer the ingredients together on low heat for an hour (or more). Basically you want most of the liquid to be absorbed and to be able to tear the jackfruit chunks into pork-like shreds.
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker. Try to get all jackfruit chunks submerged in the bbq sauce. Add about 1/2 cup of water if you need additional liquid to cover. Add more water & seasonings if you’re not using bourbon).
Cook on high for 3 hours, stirring the mixture once every hour. In the last hour, use a fork or spatula to gently break up the jackfruit chunks into shreds. This is when you will really see the pulled “pork” texture forming.
Optional step: Continue to cook the jackfruit in the slow cooker until most of the liquid is absorbed. OR spread the mixture onto a baking sheet. Broil on low or high, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the jackfruit darkens in color, about 10-15 min. This step was a bit tedious but the result was very much worth it.
Hot and MESSY on a toasted bun, piled high with my Classic Vegan Cole Slaw and a few pickle slices! I can’t wait for you all to try out this recipe. Feel free to comment with any questions about jackfruit & be sure to tag me in your creations!