Irn bru pulled jackfruit is one of those sentences that won’t make much sense to a lot of people.
Jackfruit has been rocking it as vegan food royalty for a few years now. It’s stringy, tender texture means it’s often used as a meat replacement, most usually as a pulled pork alternative. Having never had the real deal, I wasn’t sure what I was meant to taste the first time I had it but I really enjoyed it (Club Mexicana ftw). It’s fairly plain in taste so can take on most flavours. You want to get the tinned stuff as whole it is not only a rather cumbersome beast but also has a, let’s say, unique smell…
If you’re not familiar with Irn Bru, it’s a fizzy juice (as we say in Scotland) and one of our national drinks alongside whisky and Buckfast – the latter I’ll get on to another day. It’s bright orange, insanely sugary and made from girders. Or so the Scottish youth of the ’80s were led to believe.
When I was at school it was readily available in the canteen vending machine meaning we were constantly wired (probably explains a lot). It was such an important drink that we had a page dedicated to it in our year book with a humourous ode to Irn Bru written by the jesters in our year. When at uni we’d buy 8 vodkas for 50p plus a can of Irn Bru in the Student Union creating a somewhat strong pint of ‘juice’ for £4.50 and subsequent dancing on tables.
The so-called ‘Mad Chef’ in Glasgow, Danny McLaren of Bar Bloc who also appeared on a Munchies video about Scottish food, has Irn Bru pulled pork on his menu which has been delighting many a Glaswegian who have the drink for every meal anyway.
There’s several other recipes out there for Irn Bru pulled pork, but none for jackfruit done this way that I could find. Having never cooked with jackfruit I had a look at a couple of BBQ jackfruit recipes then a few Irn Bru pork ones and then got going! This was an absolute experiment but one that worked.
The high sugar content in Irn Bru makes it rather good for creating a sweet, sticky coating. I only used 2/3 of a standard 330ml can and added some extra sugar which seemed a decent balance. I was reluctant to use the whole can as I only used one 280g can of jackfruit and didn’t know how much the liquid would cook off but you could probably use more Bru and cook it for longer.
But really I just wanted to neck the rest of the can.
It’s important to use jackfruit in water, not brine or syrup, so that it’s not already flavoured. I use all the jackfruit – not wasting the core by cutting it off as it’s just as tasty and it would be unnecessary waste.
I left the jackfruit to marinade for about 4 hours. You could probably go straight to cooking if you didn’t have time for marinading as I don’t know if that deepened the taste the same way it would on time tofu or meat. I’ll report back next time I make it.
The Mad Chef’s recipe uses tomatoes and stock, neither of which I used. Some other recipes added Worcester or soy sauce and if I had had some Henderson’s relish (fish-free alternative Worcester sauce) I might have added that. Next time! The great thing about this recipe is you can adapt it to add whichever herbs and spices you like – this just gives it a perfectly sweet, sticky but crisp finish. I included smoked chilli flakes to give it a hotter, smokier texture but these could be omitted or replaced with a flavour of your choice.
I served it on top of a baked potato with some bean chilli which worked an absolute treat. I then dished it up in a salad the next day. Again, winning. Or you could go for the good old in a roll combo with some salad and sauce. The possibilities are endless!
Scroll down for the full recipe.
Irn Bru pulled jackfruit
- 330ml can of Irn Bru
- 280g/1lb can of jackfruit in water
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2-1 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1/2 tsp smoked chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Drain and rinse the jackfruit. Cut each chunk into smaller slices.
Put it in a bowl and add two of the chopped garlic cloves, the paprika, mustard and 1 tsp of sugar. Pour over 1/3 of the can of Irn Bru (c.100ml) and mix.
Leave in the fridge ideally for 4+ hours.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the third clove of chopped garlic and cook for another minute. Add the jackfruit and another 1/3 of the Irn Bru (c. 100-120ml). Season with salt and pepper. Turn up the heat and cook until the Irn Bru is almost evaporated and it starts to go sticky.
Use a masher or two forks to mash up the jackfruit to give it a pulled texture.
Transfer the jackfruit to a baking tray. Sprinkle the final 1 tsp of sugar over the jackfruit and spread it out evenly.
Cook for 20 minutes checking it every 6-8 minutes and mixing it so the crispy bits are distributed.
It is done when all the liquid has evaporated and some of the bits have gone lovely and crispy.