Vegetarians usually can’t find something good to eat at a summer barbecue. Something as glorious as the flame-grilled steaks, burgers, and BBQ chicken that carnivores get to indulge in. No meatless side dish would suffice. Vegetarians deserve something big, something stunning, something entrée size.
Thus, the BBQ Beer-Can Cabbage Sandwich was born. Sure, you might wonder if stuffing a hollowed-out head of cabbage with a can of beer is mere insanity. But I promise you it’s a glorious thing, a vegetarian preparation truly worthy of the grill. The cabbage is steamed from beer hidden inside it, slathered with barbecue sauce as it cooks, and gets sweet and charred from the heat of the grill.
To turn that cabbage into a hearty main dish, pull it off the grill, slice it into pork-like strips, stuff it into a sturdy Kaiser roll, and top it with a crunchy coleslaw (made from the cabbage trimmings, natch), plus rich cheddar cheese and spicy pickled jalapeños.
Ready to get cabbage grilling? Here’s how to do it:
TURN A CABBAGE INTO A CHICKEN
Where does that beer can go? Unlike a chicken, there’s no natural place. But all of you have to do is use a paring knife to create a can-sized square (about 3 inches by 3 inches) around the cabbage’s core, then use the knife and a spoon to scoop out the inside of this area until you have a hole deep enough for the can to fit halfway in (about 3 inches deep). An added benefit: you’re going to turn those cabbage trimmings into a perfect coleslaw.
GIVE THE CABBAGE THAT SMOKY, GRILLED FLAVOR
(Steamed cabbage is great, but it is no meat substitute.) To add a rich, meaty flavor to the final dish, I knew the smoky char of the grill was necessary. Basting the cabbage with barbecue sauce every 15 minutes keeps it moist and imparts that sweet, tangy flavor. Even better, as the barbecue sauce caramelizes, it turns the cabbage crispy and adds beautiful crunch to the end dish.
ADD EVEN MORE FLAVOR
To turn the barbecued cabbage into an addictive sandwich, it needed a few extras. I went for a sturdy Kaiser roll, which could stand up to the messiness of the cabbage. Then I mixed the raw cabbage with carrot, red onion, mayonnaise, and seasonings for a bright and crunchy slaw. Each sandwich gets two slices of cheddar to add some body and richness to the sandwich. And to add some spice, I finished it off with some pickled jalapeños. The result is so smoky, spicy, messy, and sweet, even the most serious meat eater will love it. And every vegetarian at the cookout will love you.
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