Today's recipe is a special reader request! Joe, this one is for you and your daughter!
The Spotted Dog is one of my favorite places in Carrboro. With a menu chock-full of both plant-based and meat-based dishes, there's something for everyone. However, it's probably most famous for its creative vegetarian dishes (plus the fact that it's housed inside a funky, triangle-shaped building!) that range from spicy, Mexican-themed favorites like flautas and pozole verde to "veggified" versions of American classics like a crabcake sandwich and chili dog. But my favorite Spotted Dog dish falls into the latter category: the veggie BBQ sandwich. The soy-based "meat" is smothered in vinegary sauce, giving it the perfect balance of smoky and sweet, and topped with a generous heap of rich, deliciously messy coleslaw.
I've been eating this sandwich on a fairly regular basis for a couple years now but never really thought to try to replicate it until a local reader emailed me to ask if I had ever tried. Now I'll admit: I am neither a native Southerner nor a meat-eater, so I have no idea how close this comes to authentic Eastern Carolina barbecue. But I can tell you it's damn delicious, and it's very close to the restaurant's version. The chewy, tangy, sticky-sweet barbecue has just enough of a kick to grab your attention, while the creamy, crunchy (and totally dairy-free) coleslaw takes the flavor to the next level. Put it all on a soft, sesame-laden bun, and what's not to love?
This time around, I didn't make my own barbecue sauce. If you're lucky enough to be able to find a vegan sauce, go for it! (Here's a list!) However, if you have a homemade sauce you love, go ahead and use that too! This one is pretty flexible.
You will need:
- 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) cubes or granules (which can be found in most health food stores, in well-stocked grocery stores, or online)
- Liquid smoke flavoring (optional but recommended)
- 1 cup hot vegetable broth
- 1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
- 1/3 - 1/2 cup vegan barbecue sauce (Trader Joe's Carolina Gold BBQ sauce contains no dairy or meat flavorings)
- Dairy-free rolls
- 1/2 cup dairy-free, egg-free mayo (Check out a list of brands here; some low-fat mainstream varieties are vegan even though the label might not advertise it! Just read the ingredients list carefully.)
- 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
- Pinch dried dill
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- 3 cups shredded coleslaw mix (green cabbage, purple cabbage, and carrots)
- Mix all coleslaw ingredients (except for the cabbage/carrots) in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Next, toss the shredded cabbage and carrots in the mayo mixture until everything is evenly mixed.
- Cover and chill the coleslaw for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, place the TVP in another bowl. Mix a few drops of liquid smoke into the broth; pour the hot broth over the TVP and stir gently to combine. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 minutes or so, or until the broth is absorbed.
- While the TVP is setting up, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Once the broth is absorbed into the TVP, take about a third of the mixture (no need to measure exactly) and add it to the hot skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the edges of the TVP are golden brown and slightly caramelized. This will give the barbecue mixture a bit of texture and added depth of flavor.
- Once that portion of TVP is crisped up, add it back to the rest of the mixture. Starting with just 1/3 of a cup, pour the barbecue sauce over the TVP and stir to combine. Add more sauce if needed, but don't add so much that it drowns in the TVP. Different brands of sauce are different thicknesses, so you could need as much as a 1/2 cup to coat the mixture.
- Retrieve the coleslaw from the fridge. Place about 1/2 cup of the barbecue on a roll, topped with a generous scoop of the coleslaw. Repeat for remaining servings. Serve immediately.
If you love the Spotted Dog as much as I do, vote for it as your favorite place for vegetarians on Chapelboro.com! Voting closes August 26th.