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Jackfruit carnitas tamales

Green jackfruit is an exotic, fibrous fruit from Southeast Asia with a meat-like texture similar to pork or chicken. Its high source of protein, fiber and antioxidants make it a great substitute for meat in vegetarian stews and curries. Our tasty jackfruit tamales recipe offers authentic carnitas flavor the whole family will love. Serve with our quick and easy Cilantro Pesto and Heirloom Pico de Gallo.

Yield: 2 dozen

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For the corn husks

4 dozen dried corn husks

For the blue corn masa

1½ cups vegetable stock, hot
2 cups high-quality masa harina
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup vegetable shortening or lard
2 tsp. baking powder

For the carnitas spice blend

1 Tbsp. cumin, ground
1 Tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. cinnamon

For the carnitas filling

2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 small onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, peeled
3, 20 oz. cans green jackfruit in brine or water, drained well
1 fresh lime, squeezed
½ cup Mexican coke (you can substitute maple syrup)

For the cilantro pesto

2 bunches cilantro, washed, dried and roughly chopped
1 cup pine nuts or pumpkin seeds, roasted
½ cup garlic cloves, roasted
½ cup aged goat cheese, grated
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

For the heirloom pico de gallo

2 cups heirloom tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 8 tomatoes)
1 small red onion, diced
1 Anaheim chile pepper, seeds and stem removed, minced
¼ cup cilantro, washed, dried and roughly chopped
Juice of 2 fresh limes
½ tsp. kosher salt


For the corn husks

  1. Soak corn husks in hot water until softened, about 1 hour. Remove from water and pat dry before using.

For the blue corn masa

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable stock to a low simmer. Place the masa harina in a large bowl, and pour hot stock over it, and combine well with a rubber spatula. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Whip the shortening or lard with an electric mixer about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
  3. Add remaining ingredients; mix until thoroughly combined. Adjust consistency with warm water until light, sticky dough is achieved, similar to peanut butter. Cover and reserve.

For the carnitas filling

  1. Mix together carnitas spice blend and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté until onions become translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and carnitas spice blend; sauté 1 minute, stirring often.
  3. Add drained jackfruit, fresh lime juice and Mexican coke (or maple syrup), stirring occasionally to break up the jackfruit, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

For the assembly of the tamales

  1. Start with a corn husk leaf laid out flat on a clean surface. Depending on the size of the corn husk, place about 2 tablespoons of masa dough on the husks and spread out evenly. You want to leave about a pencil’s thickness around the edges.
  2. Next, line about 2 tablespoons of jackfruit filling into an even line down the middle of the masa dough. When the tamale is rolled, the masa should completely cover the filling, but not overlap too much. Start rolling the tamale from one edge, and roll continuously into a tight little tube.
  3. You can tie the tamale by ripping long strands from a corn husk to use as the string. If you soften them in some warm water, they will be much easier to work with.
  4. Fill a large stockpot or double boiler with 2 inches of water; place adjustable steamer insert inside stockpot and stand tamales upright, packing them in tightly. Heat water to boiling and steam, covered, for about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on size. Check the water level every 15 minutes and add more if necessary. To ensure doneness, open one to test. The masa should pull away cleanly from the corn husk.
  5. Serve with Cilantro Pesto and Heirloom Pico de Gallo.

For the cilantro pesto

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor; pulse until combined.
  2. Refrigerate until needed.

Tip: Makes 1 cup

For the heirloom pico de gallo

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Allow to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to combine. Serve on top of tamales.

Tip: Makes 3 cups

Note: Make sure you purchase green jackfruit in brine or water—you do not want ripe jackfruit in syrup.