Jackfruit Carnitas and Your Summer Party Menu

Jackfruit Carnitas and Your Summer Party Menu

jackfruit carnitas

Originally published on Pittsburgh Magazine

Jackfruit carnitas? Only the biggest trick up your sleeve this summer!

If these guys throw a party, I want an invite. I’m not kidding. I really do. Their cookbook, Lust for Leaf, is your go-to guide for how to party this summer. I get a lot of cookbooks to review and this one goes to the top of the “keep” pile. The recipes are, as Los Angeles Magazine puts it, “…seriously soulful and a little scandalous.” How can you resist dishes with names like “Nasty Date,” “Salsas that Hurt,” “Nachos that Cook Themselves,” “Backpack Banh Mi,” and “Booze You Can Eat.”

The recipes may sound slacker-ish but they are seriously legit. And the writing is just as enjoyable. What can you expect? Writers Alex Brown and Evan George are not only chefs but award-winning writers as well. This book is so mouthwatering and so fun, I wish I can zip to L.A. and crash one of their ragers.

But since I can’t – at least for now – I assuaged myself by making one of the most intriguing recipes (among many) in the book: Jackfruit Carnitas. Now, there are a LOT of recipes on the interwebs using this magic ingredient but none of them – I repeat, NONE – are as good as this one. Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of them. The difficulty is, while young jackfruit is an awesome thing (it is not new to me as it is used in Asian cooking – I especially love it cooked in coconut milk), you need to cook it right to translate it to a western palate. Young jackfruit may taste less intense than its ripe counterpart but its still distinct, especially the canned kind since the brine adds another dimension of flavor. The magic trick in the book is to smoke the jackfruit so that the brine is evaporated and another layer of goodness permeates the jackfruit.

This is key.

But takes an effing lot of effort.

So I took the idea and their alternative suggestion of drying the jackfruit in the oven. I took refuge in adding liquid smoke to make up for the fact that I didn’t have the patience to do the whole mesquite process. Magic!

I made the red chile sauce to the letter.

The result?

OMG. OMG. OMG. Was all I could say as I bit into my taco. These were so good I almost died.

These boys were not kidding when they wrote. “Follow these instructions and your friends will worship you too, like they just solved the world’s mysteries or saw the Virgin of Guadalupe in a piece of fruit.”

Quick. Run to your nearest Asian/ethnic/specialty food store and nab all the young jackfruit cans before someone else does.

Recipe on Pittsburgh Magazine.