If you've never seen a fresh Jackfruit, you're not alone. Actually, this weekend is the first time I cooked one. It is really an enormous fruit, it is the largest tree fruit out there. This big beast is packed with carotenoids and phytonutrients so it has many benefits to it. Plus this is a great vegan option to replace "shredded meat". Cooks like pork and appears like chicken and tastes like what you make it taste like.
Carrying a jackfruit is almost like carrying a 3 month old baby through the store. The blade on my knife in the picture is about 12" and it looks like a pairing knife compared to the fruit. Even though it's a fruit, from the same family as figs, It really reminds me of a flavorless pineapple but has similar texture of an artichoke. once it's cooked, the dense parts are more like a cooked potato. I'd recommend joining a co-op if you're going to cook one of these. Luckily I had some commercial size pans at home because this took up a lot of space. Also, I highly recommend using gloves because your hands will get extremely sticky. If will feel almost like sap. It's not juicy so it won't make too much of a mess. You will definitely need a large sharp knife to make this easier. I sliced it into 2" thick slices to get the seeds out.
Once I got the fruit sliced, skinned and deseeded, which I admit was time consuming, I began turning it from a huge fruit into delicious carnitas! After searing it to caramelize the flesh a little I added some onions, pasilla peppers, green onions, garlic and tomatillos with fresh oranges. You'll also need a lot of vegetable stock because I braised this for 4 hours at 400f and the pans were dry by the end. Spices like cumin and coriander really round out the flavors. This definitely filled the house with enough aromas to play the "Smells Like" game. Smells like meat cooking, smells like a savory pot pie...
1 whole Jackfruit
1 each White or Yellow Onion, 3/4" dice
1 each Pasilla Pepper, 1/2" dice
8 oz Tomatillo's cut in 1/4's
8 oz Fresh Tomatoes, cut in small wedges
1 bunch Cilantro, rough chopped...gently
2 each Navel Oranges, segmented
6 cloves Fresh Garlic, smashed
3 quarts Vegetable Stock
4 tbs Ground Cumin
4 tbs Ground Coriander
4 oz Avocado Oil
TT Course Sea Salt
What To Do
After checking out at the grocery store and answering all the "Can I ask what that is?" questions, go through the steps above to slice, peel and prepare the jackfruit. Depending on the size of your saute pans, you can cut down the slices of jackfruit to either 1/4's of a slice or into large chunks 2-3" in size. I sprinkled each side of each piece with both salt and cumin. I seared each piece in avocado oil to brown the sugars and start layering in the flavors.
In the same pan when you are done with the fruit, you can add the onions, garlic and pasilla pepper. Give the onions some time to get nice and brown before adding the garlic so it doesn't burn. Cook the peppers until tender then you can deglaze the pan by adding some of the vegetable stock and using an appropriate spatula to loosen the flavor off the bottom of the pan. If you are using teflon, don't scrape it with metal. If your Teflon is already scratched, invest in a new pan. Scratched Teflon can lead to health issues. Just an FYI.
In a large or a several casserole or roasting pans, add all of your ingredients. if you are using more than one pan like I did, just divide up your ingredients evenly. Cover the pans tightly with foil even if it has a lid. You can use both. The foil will help keep the steam in the pan so it doesn't dry out so fast. Place your pan in the preheated 400f oven and check it after about 2 hours. Add more liquid if needed but you should only have to cover about 3/4's of the jackfruit. It doesn't have to be submerged.
Check the jackfruit again around the 3 hour mark. Make sure to reseal the pan carefully each time you check it. Be careful, it's freaking hot. You're checking to see if it will shred easily with a pair of tongs or two forks or a whisk. If it's not ready, check to see if you should add more liquid. If the pan is dry, it will be OK to add plain water because at this point you will be reconstituting a lot of flavor instead of diluting it.
When it's tender enough to shred, you can either eat it immediately or let it cool down and refrigerate it properly. I recommend inviting a ton of friends over with their own tupperware. You'll have a ton. More like a shit ton.
I will have more recipes coming for tomatillo salsa to make tacos or enchiladas with this. Plus I will be making fresh whole grain flour tortillas too. You can add a barbeque sauce instead and make a BBQ Pulled "pork" style sandwich. At this point, the applications are endless and will be endless because you have so freaking much.... but the health benefits are just as ample so don't be intimidated by how much love a Jackfruit has to give....
In good health my friends