Lovers of pulled pork sandwiches who are now vegetarian or vegan can rejoice: Yes there are veggie pulled pork recipes that rival those made with meat. Multiple plant-based substitutes that can rival the flavor and texture of slow-cooked pulled pork shoulder. Combine these substitutes with a well-made barbecue sauce and even some crunchy coleslaw for heaven on a plate.
Veggie pulled pork
Pulled pork dishes are the result of slow cooking pork shoulder until it is fork-tender and easily shredded. The shredded pork is then tossed with a barbecue sauce and can be served on its own or as part of a sandwich.
While there are many vegan and plant-based meat substitutes on the market, most options, such as seitan, can't be shredded to provide the preferred texture. As a result, veggie pulled pork cooks often look elsewhere for an appropriate meat substitute.
Popular options include:
Jackfruit: Jackfruit may be the most popular base for veggie pulled pork. This is because its texture closely resembles pulled meat and it lends itself easily to barbecue sauce flavors.
Tip: It's important to purchase the right kind of jackfruit. Cooks should choose unripe jackfruit that has been canned in water. Do not opt for jackfruit canned in syrup, as the syrup will add excessive sweetness to the dish.
Hearts of palm: Hearts of palm is another option. Like jackfruit, it has a relatively bland taste on its own and the texture can resemble that of pulled pork.
Tip: Some cooks add thinly shredded carrots to jackfruit or hearts of palm pulled pork as a way of adding extra texture.
Oyster mushrooms: Some vegetarian pulled pork recipes call for the use of oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms have a firm texture, particularly their stems, and have a neutral flavor. Use a chef knife to cut the mushrooms, stems and all, into thin strips before preparing.
Lentils: Using vegetables and fruits as substitutes for meat in veggie pulled pork have one drawback. These substitutes are low in calories but also low in protein. For individuals who are concerned about getting enough protein at each meal, a high protein alternative such as lentils may be a preferred option.
A drawback to all of these substitutes is that they can't easily be placed on a barbecue grill to absorb the flavor of smoke. One way to address this would be to line a BBQ grill pan with foil and place the raw ingredients on top of the pan. Set it on a wood-fired grill for a while so that the veggies take on a smoky flavor.
While it is possible to use a commercial barbeque sauce in these recipes, many people feel that they get better results at home. To ensure a proper blending of flavors, cooks might consider making the barbecue sauce a day before preparing the pulled pork. A silicone spatula can be useful in stirring the sauce and then scraping every last drop from the mixing bowl into a jar for storing overnight.
Putting the dish together
Cook should decide whether they want to prepare the "pork" as a plate or sandwich. In either case, crunchy, tart coleslaw provides a refreshing side dish or an appetizing topping for sandwiches.
After preparing the pulled pork base according to whatever recipe the chef wants to use, the plates or sandwiches can be easily assembled. If preparing sandwiches, the cook may want to use a spoon rest to hold the sauce ladle and spoon for scooping the veggie pulled pork out of a pot or pan.