Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pulled Cauliflower BBQ Sandwiches

What is this?  Two posts in one day!?  What's up with that?  Well first of all, I'm getting a bit bored today.  I'm home alone with a bad cold while Mom and Kenzie went for a day trip to the beach, and Rachael is at a party.  I can only watch so many episodes of House Hunters (without crying about my own thus-far-unsuccessful house hunt).  Second of all, this meal is special enough to merit a two-posts-in-one-day post.  This is the one you've been waiting for.  This, my friends, is the pulled cauliflower BBQ sandwich post.

Now, anyone who is Facebook friends with me has probably already heard about this meal.  I posted this status in the midst of cooking: "Reason 586 why I love this man: he came into the kitchen to see how my BBQ sandwiches were going.  He asked, 'wheres the pork?'  I informed him we were having pulled cauliflower, not pork.  He just shook his head and smiled."  I thought it just summed up how easy-going Mark is when it comes to eating the sometimes-very-strange foods that I make; he very rarely says no to giving anything a try (unless it involves ground chicken or turkey, most shellfish, or eggs).  I also thought it would probably freak lots of people out that I was mixing barbecue sauce and cauliflower and calling it dinner... and I was right.  The entertaining comments I got included, "Give that man some meat!", "We are not sorry to be missing this meal.", "Wow, Mark is a better man than I.", and were topped off by Rachael's "I left for dinner tonight....".

Okay, fine, I know it sounds totally bizarre, but I was intrigued.  First you make your own barbecue sauce - and, red alert, this sauce is to die for.  In fact, I have made it again twice since the sandwiches, per request from my whole family (unfortunately it was for Mark to slather on chicken wings).  It's the absolute perfect blend of sweet, spicy, salty, smoky... it's just amazing.  Make the sauce, at least, even if you are totally horrified at the thought of pulling cauliflower.  It's so easy to make, too.  I hate barbecue sauce, and even I liked it.

Now onto the part that you skeptics are all wondering about: how the heck do you pull cauliflower?  To be honest, the name is a bit misleading; you don't pull much of anything.  You grind up the cauliflower and mix it with eggs (the website has a vegan option if you're interested), some of the homemade barbecue sauce, water, and salt.  Then the mixture is spread into a pan and baked.  What you end up with is a kind of cauliflower cake that then gets sliced into strips for serving.  While the cauliflower is baking, caramelize some onions so that your sandwich will have all the fixings of a traditional pulled BBQ sandwich.  Then you have everything you'll need: hamburger buns, pulled cauliflower, barbecue sauce, and caramelized onions.

See? He's smiling!
I know you're curious: how were these bizarre vegetarian sandwiches!?  I think you'll be surprised to hear that they were actually rather awesome.  Mom, Kenzie, Mark, Christy and I all ate one quite happily.  Kenzie claimed that she wanted to hate them, but found herself shocked to discover that she "really really liked it" and would like for it to be served again some night!  The biggest shocker was that even Nick ate one; he doused it in enough sauce to probably drown the cauliflower taste altogether, but hey, if I could get him to eat a veggie sandwich, then I could get anyone to give it a try.

You'd be surprised how many people have been asking for this recipe.  I think the idea of a healthy, meatless barbecue option appeals to more people than I would have guessed.  And so, everyone, without further ado, here is the recipe for the absolutely delicious and shockingly popular pulled cauliflower BBQ sandwiches!

She's loving it!


pulled cauliflower BBQ sandwiches
from Beard and Bonnet
makes about 6 sandwiches


for sauce:
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons distilled vinegar
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons brown sugar

for pulled cauliflower:
2 cups cauliflower florets from 1 small head cauliflower
3 eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1/3 cup homemade barbecue sauce
pinch of salt

to make sandwiches:
6 hamburger buns
2 onions, sliced thin


1) Make the sauce: combine all of the ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes.

2) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Lightly rub olive oil on the parchment paper to prevent sticking and set aside.

3) Chop cauliflower into florets and pulse in the food processor until the cauliflower looks like couscous or small grains of rice; no not overprocess!

4) In a large bowl, combine all of the pulled cauliflower ingredients and mix well to combine; the mixture will be wet.  Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it out evenly over the surface.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.  Meanwhile, caramelize the onions.  Then remove cauliflower from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

5) Once cooled, slice cauliflower into strips and use a spatula to carefully lift it from the parchment.  It will be pretty fragile, but don't worry if it breaks, since it's going in a sandwich anyway.

6) To make sandwiches, pile buns high with cauliflower strips, barbecue sauce, and caramelized onions.  Enjoy!

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