Looking for an easy, inexpensive, healthier Taco Tuesday? This is your recipe! A vegetarian go-to…
Prepare to be amazed! Who knew a fruit could be the best meat-free substitute for “carnitas”. This taco filling will BLOW YOUR MIND whenever you want to cut out meat, calories, and still inhale a plate full of insanely delicious tacos!
Carnitas, Spanish for “little meats”, are typically pulled pork, slowly braised in fat somewhat like the process of confit. It’s tender, juicy, and depending on what flavors are added, it’s probably one of the best taco fillings known to man. I’ve been known to splurge on any and all types of tacos, especially during an all-you-can-eat Taco Tuesday special. More often than not though, I feel weighed down, lethargic, and completely useless after a night of overindulging on greasy tacos.
I had to find a way to make tacos in abundance so that I could pig out and not feel so much guilt. It’s not worth compromising on flavor either so I found a few options for meat replacements. Jackfruit is one of the best by far since it mimics pulled pork but is made from a fruit. They hold up when when they are double cooked as well to get even more of that delicious carnitas texture.
I am a big fan of pulled pork, slow cooked in zesty spices and double cooked in the oven for the crispy bits! I get it, I know jackfruit is the unpopular ingredient amongst meat lovers. If you haven’t tried it though, then you really don’t know JACK! It looks and eats just like pulled meat without the fat.
Let’s talk about how cool jackfruits are. They have swept the market as a replacement for pulled meat. Who would have thought!?!? The meat of the fruit is super mild in flavor and takes on whatever flavor you prefer to add. Feel free to lug home and break apart the actual fruit. They’re HUGE! I think I weighed and priced out one at the grocery store and it would have cost me just short of $50 for a fruit.
So here’s the trick, get the canned jackfruit! It’s fine, it’s easy and it’s already sitting in water or brine so it keeps it juicy for your cooking process! You’re looking at about $2-$4 per a 20 ounce can and a whopping 40 calories per serving.
This recipe is super simple. Once you stock up on jackfruit in a can (which I highly recommend you do for other recipes), you can throw a batch of these together with ingredients that you most likely have on hand, like spices, orange juice, syrup and even beer! What a combination!
Just try them and trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Very similar to my lentil tacos, you don’t know how addicting these can be until you give them a shot! Then it becomes an issue of how NOT to share them!
Jackfruit “Carnitas” Tacos
- 2 (20 oz.) cans young green jackfruit in brine (or water)
- ½ large onion sliced or chopped
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste optional
- 2-3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce chopped
- 2 medium oranges juiced (about 1/2 cup of juice)
- ½ cup beer lager
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- salt additional to taste
- Drain jackfruit in a strainer and rinse thoroughly and squeeze out excess liquid.
- Add jackfruit into the food processor (or break it apart with your hands or later in the skillet). Pulsate until the jackfruit breaks down slightly for 3-5 seconds.
- Heat a large skillet or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat with olive oil. Add onions and and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions become translucent. Add garlic and all spices, including salt. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add jackfruit into the skillet and continue to stir until the spices coat the jackfruit.
- Add chiles, tomato paste (optional for added flavor), orange juice, beer and maple syrup. For about 8-10 minutes, stir slightly and cook down until almost all the liquid is gone.
- Set oven to broil setting. Spread all the jackfruit onto a large baking sheet. Spread it out as much as possible. Broil for 4-5 minutes, watching closely.
- Remove pan, flip or toss the jackfruit and add it back into the oven under the broiler for an additional 4-5 minutes. Watch closely again until the edges and bits and pieces of the jackfruit are slightly charred.
- Remove and sprinkle with diced red onions and chopped cilantro.
- Top tortillas with jackfruit and all your favorite toppings!