Here's How To Slow-Cook Jackfruit As A Tasty Meat Alternative

Jackfruit tacos on a wooden slab with lime
Jackfruit tacos on a wooden slab with lime - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

There are many ways to prepare jackfruit as a tasty meat alternative, but if slow-cooked just right, a pulled-jackfruit sandwich can give a pulled-pork sandwich a run for its money. With some time, care, and quality seasonings, you can realize a jackfruit's ultimate meat-like potential.

In its most natural form, jackfruit is not a food that is easy to envision as a meat alternative. Growing in Central and Eastern Africa, Australia, and many subtropical parts of the world, like India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia, jackfruit is visually similar to a durian, with a thick, rough exterior and edible seeds inside. Many people describe the flavor of the raw fruit as a mix between a banana and a pineapple. Jackfruit is also very nutritious: A serving packs significant doses of potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber, among many other notable nutrients.

Although jackfruit has long been part of the diets of local populations, the 2010s brought on a rise in its popularity in Western cuisine, particularly as a plant-based meat alternative. When harvested young, the jackfruit's flesh is almost uncannily similar to the texture of meat. Its bumpy outside and large size may make it seem intimidating to work with, but cooking with jackfruit is easier than you might think.

Read more: The 15 Best Store-Bought Barbecue Sauces, Ranked

The Simplicity Of The Slow Cooker Process

mini slow cooker on a counter in a kitchen
mini slow cooker on a counter in a kitchen - Onurdongel/Getty Images

Jackfruit "meat" does not have to be challenging to make. You can either slice open the fruit lengthwise with a large, sturdy knife to access the meaty pieces inside, or you can buy the pieces canned. If sourcing from a whole fruit, focus on extracting the flesh and set the seeds aside (they're delicious boiled or steamed on their own).

A young jackfruit's naturally fibrous and chewy texture already does half the work, but throwing the fruit into a slow cooker will take it all the way. Slow cookers simmer foods at low temperatures over extended periods. When you add in jackfruit pieces with a marinade or brine, the low and slow cooking method will break the fruit down, making it even more tender and infusing it with all the savory flavors reminiscent of pulled chicken or pork. Every slow cooker recipe will require some kind of liquid to tenderize the jackfruit. It may be a combination of water, oil, and broth, which will help break the jackfruit down. You can even throw in some extra vegetables, like onions or garlic, which will become tender and diffuse flavor into the jackfruit.

The slow cooker method is not only a guarantee for tasty jackfruit "meat" but also an easy process. All you need to do is mix the jackfruit into the pot with the flavorings of your choice and then get it cooking. After a few hands-free hours (around five or six on the low setting or two to three on high, depending on your recipe), your jackfruit will be juicy and full of flavor. Depending on how it's been cooked, you may want to shred the fleshy pieces further with a fork, and then you'll be ready to serve.

Many Ways To Enjoy Slow-Cooked Jackfruit Meat

Jackfruit barbecue sandwich with chips
Jackfruit barbecue sandwich with chips - Bhofack2/Getty Images

One of the best aspects of jackfruit "meat" is its versatility. When it comes to deciding what flavorings to include in the slow cooker, it's best to think in terms of how you typically like to flavor your meat. A classic barbecue rub including paprika, chili, garlic powder, and brown sugar could easily infuse well with jackfruit. You can also marinade the fruit in a garlic-infused buffalo sauce, with generous dollops of hot sauce and honey. From shredded jackfruit tacos to BBQ jackfruit "pulled pork" sandwiches, a jackfruit dish can easily satisfy a meaty craving without containing any actual meat.

No matter how you choose to season and serve it, jackfruit makes for a tasty, nourishing, and meat-like main course. With the approachable slow-cooker method, you, too, can have your mind blown by this unassuming tropical fruit's ability to emulate your favorite meaty meals.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.