To Eat, or Not To Eat…
As a society, we are collectively bound by our traditions. And this Missouri girl is not naive to how deeply those traditions are woven into her Midwestern fabric. Missouri is a political bellwether state. And we are also known to smile and wave to complete strangers.
A person’s word and a firm handshake are still all we need to seal a deal. We look after each other and love to be outside! A cool fun fact is that we are the only state in the union that has all five terrestrial eco-systems. Yep, you can find it all here—deserts, swamps, mountains, grasslands, and forests.
We also hold steadfast to our traditions, and our bullheadedness has earned us the nickname “The Show-Me State.” Creatures of habit, we like things the way we like ’em, and change is not much welcomed here. That said, when change does happen, you can guarantee it’s as slow as a Bootheel drawl. Now, it’s not that we can’t change, but you’ve got to show us why we should! Particularly when it comes to what we eat.
Kansas City, my hometown, sits on the far western edge of the state, and has had a long history of determining what we eat. And what we eat…is meat. The cattle industry, a thriving industry for over 120 years, began in the west bottoms of KC in 1871 where the Livestock Exchange & Stockyards operated for 12 decades. In 1899, the National Hereford Show was founded as a cattle show in the Kansas City Stockyardsand was later renamed the “American Royal” after a 1901 editorial in a entitled, “Call It The American Royal.”It’s also why my city would eventually name their baseball team, The Kansas City Royals. Twice a year in October and November, The American Royal is host to livestock and horse shows, a rodeo and a barbecue competition, all of which are held in the former stockyards.
Though the stockyards closed in 1991, the meat industry in KC still reigns as King…the King of Barbeque. From the Atlantic to the Gulf coast, bordered by the western outposts of Texas, my hometown lies in the middle of an area of the United States called the “Barbeque Belt”, an area that houses four distinct barbecue traditions – Carolina, Texas, Memphis and Kansas City. BBQ is as ingrained in me as any Midwestern heritage could be. And when I decided to stop eating meat, BBQ was a difficult task to master. I missed the smoky flavor and the unmistakable smell of BBQ pulled pork. Until now…
This recipe has been modified several times, but it is one of the best recipes for making jackfruit. Simmered in a ranchero sauce of sorts, the jackfruit is then slowly roasted in a 400° oven for 25 minutes. The crispy jackfruit is then added back to a skillet and doused with bbq sauce. It’s truly heavenly and it satisfies my craving for all things BBQ.
BBQ JACKFRUIT SLIDERS
Ingredients for 12 servings
- 20 oz young green jackfruit, 3 cans, in brine or water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 ¼ cups barbecue sauce
- Buns (gluten-free, brioche, etc.)
Preheat oven to 400° Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix brown sugar and spices together in a bowl. I only used about three or 4 tablespoons of the seasoning. I had a bunch left over and I just put it in a jar for later use.
- In a colander add drained jackfruit. I like to pull it apart and dispose of the large seeds. Once most of the water has been released, spread jackfruit out evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Toss with spices and mix well.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until the jackfruit is slightly browned and crispy.
- Remove the jackfruit from the oven, and add to a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Pour in BBQ sauce. Mix well. Taste for seasoning, adjust as necessary. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Ensure that buns are cut in half, add to a toaster oven for 2 to 3 minutes, or until interior is slightly crisp.
- Spread the BBQ jackfruit on the buns, then top with any additional favorites (pickles, slaw, more sauce!).