Turning meat-centric meals into a vegan masterpiece is one creative accomplishment. In this recipe, we use jackfruit to mimic "little meats," or carnitas in Spanish. This traditional Mexican dish originated in the state of Michoacán and is usually made by slow-cooking pork until tenderized and falling apart, but in this case, jackfruit does the same, if not better, and is healthier for you than animal products.

If this is your first time experimenting with jackfruit, be sure to look for fresh, young jackfruit that's light green on the outside and yellow in the middle. Canned jackfruit also works, but if you can get it fresh, choose the whole fruit! You'll notice when you pull apart the little pieces of jackfruit, they look like string cheese or pulled pork, and when they're seasoned and braised they taste and look exactly like meat. Make this recipe for taco night or surprise your carnivore friend with a meatless dish they will be sure to love.

Recipe Developer: Broke Bank Vegan

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Vegan Carnitas Made with Jackfruit

Serves 8

Ingredients

Carnitas:

  • 2 lbs young jackfruit ($3.86)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided ($0.11)
  • ½ medium white onion, diced ($0.17)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.12)
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano ($0.03)
  • ¾ teaspoon thyme ($0.01)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin ($0.01)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika ($0.01)
  • ½ tablespoon salt ($0.01)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper ($0.01)
  • 1 ½ navel oranges, juiced ($0.30)
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice ($0.12)
  • 2 tablespoon tamari ($0.36)
  • ⅔ cup water ($0.01)
  • 2-3 Mexican bay leaves ($0.01)

To serve optional:

  • Corn tortillas
  • Guacamole
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Hot sauce

Instructions

For the Jackfruit:

  1. To prepare the jackfruit, rub some oil on your knife and cut the fruit in half then quarters.
  2. Cut each quarter into thick slices like you would a watermelon. Then, remove the core from each slice using your knife (it's also helpful to have gloves on for this part).
  3. Once you have discarded the core, begin to pull the fruit pods away from the rind and remove the seeds from inside the pods. Separate the seeds into one bowl and the fruit pods into another.
  4. Once you have removed the fruit pods, cut away the white pulp from the rind and add it to the same bowl as the pods. Discard what is left of the rinds and set your bowl of fruit pods and pulp aside.

For Cooking:

  1. Combine the oregano, thyme, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, orange juice, lime juice, tamari, and water in a mixing bowl.
  2. Then, preheat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pot over medium. Add in the diced onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent. Add in the minced garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Next, add the jackfruit, marinade, and bay leaves into the pot of onions and garlic. Give it a good stir, then reduce the heat to low-medium. Cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.
  4. With about 10-15 minutes left of simmering, preheat your oven to 375°F.
  5. Once the jackfruit is tender enough to pull apart, begin shredding it with 2 forks or a potato masher (it should come apart quite easily).
  6. Transfer the jackfruit to a baking sheet in a single layer (this is important to get a nice crisp and char). Bake for 20-25 minutes, mixing halfway. Check to see if they are crispy starting at the 20-minute mark and keep a close eye until done.
  7. Serve your jackfruit carnitas on their own or in homemade corn tortillas with guacamole, diced onions, sliced jalapeños, hot sauce, lime wedges, cilantro, etc.

Nutritionals 

Calories 260 | Total Fat 11.8g | Saturated Fat 1.6g | Sodium 898mg | Total Carbohydrates 37g | Dietary Fiber 8.9g | Total Sugars 5.1g | Protein 5.8g | Calcium 77mg | Iron 2mg | Potassium 227mg |

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