Hope Sinks


Carnitas!
August 15, 2008, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Cooking, Veganism | Tags: , , , ,

Now, I’m a Canadian. As my husband is constantly reminding me, that means I have no idea when it comes to Mexican food. While I know me a good burrito when I eat one and know enough to know that the “Mexican” restaurant here in town (Julio’s Barrio) sucks, he’s probably right about the rest of it. I don’t know a torta from a flauta from a churro, and, until yesterday, I didn’t really know what carnitas were either. Thanks and praise be, therefore, to the mighty melisser for posting her recipe for carnitas that use young jackfruit in the place of meat.

Jackfruit is weird.

Jackfruit is weird.

Wikipedia tells me that carnitas is a type of heavily seasoned braised or roasted pork that is relatively common in Mexican cuisine. The meat is used to make tacos, sandwiches (tortas, apparently), burritos, and any number of other dishes. I’ve heard about young jackfruit as a substitute for meat (particularly pulled pork type meat) from a couple of different people now, so when the husband gave me a can of young green jackfruit as a parting gift on one of my last visits, I knew it would eventually get made into carnitas. Unfortunately, I’m lazy and a big procrastinator so that can of jackfruit had been sitting in my cupboard for several months by the time I finally got around to doing anything with it, but I had the day off and the kitchen to myself yesterday, and as luck would have it, I was feeling homesick for San Francisco and wanted some Mexican food. The time was right.

Uncooked jackfruit with salsa verde, garlic, onions, and seasonings in the crock pot before cooking.

Uncooked jackfruit with salsa verde, garlic, onions, and seasonings in the crock pot before cooking.

Having never tasted either jackfruit or carnitas, I felt like I was flying a little blind with this recipe. Melisser doesn’t list quantities for the seasonings in her recipe, so I guessed as best I could (I tended to go heavier on the smoked paprika and oregano than the cayenne and cumin) and came out with (I think) a pretty satisfactory result. I also had never really tasted salsa verde (in fact, I had never seen salsa verde for sale in Edmonton before until a recent visit to the new Sobey’s market on Jasper Avenue and 104 st., where I shelled out $12 for a container big enough for the recipe – a flagrant rip off), so I wasn’t sure how all the spices called for would interact with those (if any) already in the salsa. I guess you can see why I felt like I was flying blind…

Melisser’s recipe cooks up the jackfruit in a crock pot with a bunch of salsa verde, onion, garlic, lime, and spices. Melisser likes to let her jackfruit simmer for 8 hours, but I’m not that organized. I originally planned to give it 2 hours, but in the end, I think my jackfruit cooked for about 4 hours, during which time I added a couple of tomatoes I had on hand that were about to go off.

My best guesses seemed to be okay, since my carnitas came out savory and with just a bit of kick. The green salsa leant a distinctive flavour to the dish, though if you asked me, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it tasted like. It is apparently impossible to get corn tortillas in Edmonton. I was forced to use mini flour torts instead, and next time, I’d like to make my own corn ones.

Cooked jackfruit and seasonings in the crock pot.

Cooked jackfruit and seasonings in the crock pot.

On the husband’s recommendation, I topped the carnitas with pico de gallo (which he informed me is a traditional Mexican “chopped sauce,” or chopped tomatoes, onions, and chiles – plus whatever else you care to add – I added lime juice and cilantro) and a bit of lettuce and extra cilantro. The result was awesome. It didn’t taste like the the packaged Old El Paso taco meat of my childhood at all. Instead, the jackfruit took on a bit of the zest of the salsa and the smokiness from the smoked paprika (a wonder ingredient in my opinion). The rest of the flavours blended together nicely, and while I have no way of knowing how authentic my carnitas was, I do know it was tasty and that I’ll make it again.

Finished product in tortilla with homemade pico de gallo. Mmmm.

Finished product in tortilla with homemade pico de gallo. Mmmm.

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I should totally add quantities, but I do it by sight & think people should season to taste. $12 for salsa verde though?! DAMN.

Comment by melisser

I am afraid of jackfruit; it looks so pulpy & fleshy. You make it look delish though! I’ll have to go to the huge Asian mall here & hunt some down…

Comment by destinyskitchen

i hope you didn’t prick your fingers…those jackfruits can be ruthless!

i feel like i learn about new “meat substitutes” more and more often, and they always surprise the heck out of me. but your approach here takes the cake. i’m already on the prowl for the nearest jackfruit vendor here in providence (which is quite a project…).

Comment by mixtape cupcakes

there’s a store called paraiso tropical in edmonton on 118 street. they sell corn tortillas, salsa verde, and lots of other latino groceries.

Comment by sizzle




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