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At the beginning of this series, I shared with you a quick and easy BBQ Mac and Cheese. I consider that recipe to be the flavor introduction to this Ultimate BBQ Mac and Cheese, or as my family calls it “Vegan Mac Crack”! Where there is BBQ, there is mac and cheese. This is a very popular opinion in the south and I’m bringing it to your table with a dairy-free and meatless spin. (This one is gluten-free optional too! All you gotta do is swap your favorite gluten-free pasta for the mac!)
“I associate mac & cheese with every holiday. Winter and summer. If there’s a barbecue, somebody has mac & cheese.” – Mimi Beal
This recipe expands on the earlier Basic BBQ Mac and Cheese with the introduction of BBQ Jackfruit. A sweet and spicy vegan version of BBQ Pulled Pork. You’re friends and family won’t be able to tell the difference with this recipe!
It’s okay, neither did I. I’ve been hearing wonderful things about it and was dying to try it. Since I was completely unfamiliar with it, I decided to first try it from a box already flavored… BLAH! It wasn’t good. It had this overpoweringly sour taste that was so bad, I didn’t even make it through the first bite.
If you’re like me and don’t know what Jackfruit is, or have never tried it, let me shed some light. Jackfruit is a fruit native to southwest India and is commonly used in South/Southeast Asian cuisines. Though it is most commonly used in sweeter applications like breakfast or dessert in these countries, when cooked in savory applications it can taste like pulled pork or chicken depending on the spices added!
You can find jackfruit, most commonly, in cans at natural grocery stores and Asian grocery stores or online! Sometimes, you may even see it in its pod. I’ve never tried it this way… It is very large an quite intimidating in this format… Like REALLY intimidating!
A few years passed before I decided to try it again. But this time, I was going to be in control of the flavoring. I scoured every grocery store within a 20-mile radius and snagged the last 3 cans at an organic market. 2 months later I got up the courage to start experimenting.
When you find canned jackfruit in the store, there are three ways it will come. In syrup, brine or water. Steer clear of the jackfruit in syrup. While it is a classic dessert option in Asian countries, it’s too sweet for BBQ/savory applications. I like the kind packed in water the best, as it’s easiest to add your own flavors!
Come back next week for a childhood favorite that typically combines mac and cheese with seasonings and ground beef… I’m doing my version of the classic hamburger helper but dairy free and meatless! See you next week!