I was reading on Three and a Half Vegans, Kelly's blog, about a Food Network Monthly Cookalong that she is now hosting. I had never participated in Food Network Friday on Tami's blog, but I thought with the new cookalong, now would be a good time for me to join in.
The theme this month is Eat St., which is a show all about food trucks. The host travels around visiting food trucks and highlights their signature items. When I looked at the Eat St.website for featured carts, the first one on the list struck me, The Grilled Cheese Truck. I love grilled cheese, and when I clicked on the recipe link for their truck and saw a beast of a sandwich filled with cheese and mac and cheese and cheese and meat and onions and more cheese I knew I needed to veganize it.
My vegan Cheesy Mac `n No Rib Sandwich
This took a little bit of time to come together, mostly because of the steps and the waiting in between, but it was worth it. My non vegan son loved it and has requested it again soon. His highest praise was saying he couldn't even tell it was vegan while bragging about it to his girlfriend.
I started by getting my "pulled pork" ready. I used the amazing jackfruit. It is incredible how chunks of hard fruit can transform into a delectable substitute for pulled pork.
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit (Recipe based off of Chow Vegan recipe)
1 can of jackfruit in water or brine
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t smoked paprika
1/4 t salt
1 T olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c bbq sauce, store bought or homemade
1/4 c beer, you could substitute broth or water
Drain and rinse the jackfruit and squeeze out any extra liquid. Put it in a bowl large enough to hold it, and sprinkle the onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt on it and mix the pieces around to evenly distribute the spices on them. Heat a skillet over medium heat and put the olive oil in, then add the garlic and saute for a minute. Next add in the seasoned jackfruit, breaking up the pieces a little if possible, and saute for about 3-4 minutes. Put the jackfruit into a slow cooker and add the bbq sauce and beer, stirring well to blend it all together. Cook on high, stirring occasionally for an hour to an hour and a half depending on your slow cooker (for me it was an hour and a half). The jackfruit should shred pretty easily at this point with a fork or spoon. Break it up until it resembles pulled pork and let it cool slightly. Put it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This helps improve the texture. I made my jackfruit one night and kept it in the refrigerator until dinner the next day.
Next make the macaroni and cheese. I really like baked mac and cheese, but figured it wasn't the best option for this sandwich, so I used my favorite stove top Mac 'N' Cheese recipe by the talented Chef Chloe. The recipe is located right on her blog. I left out the broccoli and quartered all of the ingredients. I also made sure the roux was nice and thick to help it stick together. After stirring the macaroni into the roux, I spread it into a 9 inch square baking dish, covered it with plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator. This amount worked perfect, it yielded enough for 4 sandwiches with a little left over, and was just the right thickness when spread out. I did this along with the jackfruit the evening before I was going to make the sandwiches, and it worked out great.
When it's finally time to put it all together, here's what you need for four sandwiches:
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit, reheated
Mac 'N' Cheese, cut squares slightly smaller than your bread
8 slices of bread, I used a nice whole wheat
8 T of Earth Balance, at room temperature
6 T of Vegenaise
2 onions, sliced into thin strips
3 T coconut oil (you could use Earth Balance)
1 block of Daiya Havarti, sliced (or other vegan cheese)
Mix together the Earth Balance and Vegenaise, and set aside (this is actually half the amounts of the original recipe and I found it to be plenty, you could possibly even use less).
Melt the coconut oil, add the onions and cook until caramelized.
Generously spread the EB/Vegenaise mixture onto one side of each slice of bread., being sure to go clear to the edges.
On the dry side of 4 of the pieces of bread, layer as follows:
single layer of Daiya
a square of chilled Mac 'N' Cheese
1/4 of the BBQ Pulled Jackfruit, spread out evenly
1/4 of the caramelized onions, spread out evenly
single layer of Daiya
Top with the remaining 4 pieces of bread, EB side out.
Heat up a griddle to medium heat, and carefully put the sandwiches on the hot griddle.Cook one side til golden brown (about 3-4 minutes), then flip and cook the other side til golden brown. These sandwiches are quite thick, so I placed a skillet on the top when browning the first side to help press them down. Also, flipping is tricky, I found using 2 spatulas helped me. After you take them off the heat, let them cool for 1 minute before cutting.
These are definitely a once in a while treat, not your standard grilled cheese fare for sure. After eating a sandwich, I was full for hours and then felt like I needed to eat something green to offset it. I do think these would be awesome to pull out and make for that person who doesn't think she/he can give up cheese, or that manly man who thinks being vegan means eating wimpy food. Not with this sandwich. :)