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Jackfruit "Carnitas" Tamales with Chapulines Salsa

Jackfruit "Carnitas" Tamales with Chapulines Salsa

Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 55 minutes

Servings: 12 tamales




  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar or agave syrup

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Zest of ½ orange

  • 1 15-oz can green jackfruit, drained and rinsed

  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced

  • ½ cup vegetable broth

  • 1 bay leaf


  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds

  • ½ white onion

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 12 ounces (8 to 10 medium) fresh tomatillos, husked

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ cup chapulines

  • 1 teaspoon chipotle flakes

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ cup lightly packed cilantro

  • ½ cup Cacique Crema Mexicana

  • ¼ cup vegetable broth or water

  • Zest and juice of 1 lime


  • ½ cup crumbled Cacique Queso Fresco

  • · 15 dried corn husks

  • 2 ⅓ cup instant masa flour

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1 cup vegetable broth

  • 6 Tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted




  1. Drain and thoroughly rinse the jackfruit.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, salt, dried oregano, spices, and orange zest. Add the jackfruit and toss well to thoroughly coat. Cover and allow to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or small pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onion until it’s just beginning to brown around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes, then add the garlic and cook a minute more.

  4. Fold in the chipotle and jackfruit and let cook, undisturbed, until fragrant. Give it a stir; it should be starting to brown and slightly stick to the bottom of the pan. When it does, pour in the broth and add the bay leaf. Increase the heat to medium-high just until it comes to a simmer, then cover with the lid so there’s a slight gap for steam to escape. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the broth has thickened and the jackfruit is easily to shred with a fork, 30 minutes or so. Discard the bay leaf.

  5. Allow the jackfruit to cool completely before filling the tamales; it’s best if you can refrigerate it overnight. Feel free to coarsely chop it to make it finer.


  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden and nutty, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the pumpkin seeds to a bowl to cool, then coarsely chop.

  2. Increase the heat to high. Cut the onion into 4 wedges, leaving the root end intact, and when the skillet is very hot, add the wedges flat side down. Leave undisturbed to char for 3 to 5 minutes, until deeply browned. Flip and repeat on the other flat side, then transfer to a cutting board. Char the tomatillos for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until evenly blistered and blackened in places. Finally, char the garlic cloves, about 1 minute per side, until deeply browned. When all the vegetables are cool enough to handle, trim the root end from the onions and core the tomatoes.

  3. Let the pan cool slightly off the heat, then add the oil and set the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering and nearly smoking, carefully add the crickets and spices. Allow to fry for about 1 minute, then remove from heat. Cool slightly.

  4. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a food processor or mortar and pestle. Add the pumpkin seeds and salt and blend until nearly smooth. Add the onions, tomatillos, garlic, and cilantro (finely chop everything first if using a mortar and pestle) and mix into a thick sauce. Stir in the Cacique Crema Mexicana and vegetable broth, then season with lime zest and juice.

  5. Serve as is or rewarm gently in a saucepan over low heat before serving with tamales.


  1. Rinse the cornhusks thoroughly and place them all in a large bowl. Cover with plenty of hot water and add a weight, such as a heavy dish, to keep them submerged. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the masa, salt, baking powder, and chili powder. Using a fork, stir in the broth until you have a crumbly dough, then add the oil and melted butter. Stir or knead by hand until the mix feels like cookie dough; it will be oily to the touch but should not look shiny or greasy. Divide it into 12 evenly sized mounds, approximately 2 ounces each.

  3. Thoroughly dry one corn husk and lay it on a work surface with the tapered end pointing away from you. Grab a mound of masa and use your fingertips to spread it in a 4- to 5-inch square in the lower left corner of the husk; you want a pretty thin layer of even thickness.

  4. Repeat with 11 of the remaining husks (there are a few extra in case any are badly torn).

  5. Spoon approximately 2 tablespoons of jackfruit “carnitas” in the center of the masa so it forms a little line parallel with the husk. Scatter 1 to 2 teaspoons Cacique Queso Fresco over it.

  6. To fold the tamale, start with the corner that has masa. Fold the long side of the husk snugly to enclose the filling, then continue rolling until there’s no excess husk. The narrow, un-filled end will form a long, tapered “tail”; fold it down toward the seam. Tear some of the extra husks into long, thin ribbons and use these to tie the tamales.

  7. Set up a steamer basket or bamboo steamer above a large pot that has a lid. Fill the pot with water until it’s about an inch below the steamer, then bring to medium-high heat. When it’s actively simmering, decrease the heat to medium-low for a gentle simmer.

  8. Position the tamales inside the steamer, filling side up. You can lean the tamales against each other to prop them upright. Cover the pot with a lid and steam the tamales, undisturbed, for 35 to 45 minutes. (Check about halfway through to ensure there’s enough liquid in the pot; if necessary, carefully pour in more water, making sure it doesn’t splash inside the tamales themselves.)

  9. To check for doneness, allow one to cool for 2 to 3 minutes while the rest keep cooking in the lidded pot; the husk should peel away easily. If the masa still sticks to it, continue to steam the tamales in 5-minute increments.

  10. Serve warm with Creamy Salsa Verde de Chapulines.

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