Smoked Maple Jackfruit “Un-Ham”

New year, new concept.  Ultimately, while strictly measured recipes can be useful, they perpetuate dependence on a blog or a book.  Don’t get me wrong: I’ll continue to collect recipe books and favourite blogs I like.  I’ll also continue to provide recipes with exact measurements.  But there will be a growing number of posts like today where the spices and cooking times will be fluid and the focus will be on conveying a method for you to make food magic with.  You can then adjust the spicing to suit your personal taste!  To start?  This flaked jackfruit that was a major hit served as sliders yesterday for a family brunch.  It makes a great side with any breakfast spread or an interesting layer in a casserole of some kind.  In short: we’re talking tasty and versatile, and the recipe makes lots to work with!

Yield: about 6 cups

What you need:

  • 3 cans of young jackfruit in brine (400 ml each, make sure it’s young – NOT sweet)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 small beet, quartered (no need to peel if it’s organic)
  • olive oil
  • maple syrup
  • paprika
  • liquid smoke
  • water
  • salt

What you do:

  1. Heat a large cast-iron (or other) skillet over medium heat.  When hot, add the olive oil.  The more you use, the richer the finished dish will be.  The minimum is about a teaspoon, and from there you can go up to 2 tablespoons on the high side if you so choose.  Add the onion and let it cook, lowering the heat as necessary, until soft and golden.
  2. While the onion is cooking, drain the jackfruit and flake it into large chunks into a bowl or on a plate, using your hands.
  3. When the onion is looking good, add the jackfruit and toss it around.  Add maple syrup, paprika and liquid smoke to taste.  You don’t need a ton, just enough to bring it to the level of sweet and smoky you like.
  4. Add the quartered beet and some water, enough to come about halfway up the contents of the pan.  Salt to taste, diluting the salt well in the liquid and letting it all bubble a bit before tasting.
  5. When the flavours are balanced to your liking, simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until the beet dyes the jackfruit and onion your desired level of “hamminess”.  I like a fleshy pink – but if you’re into technicolor fushia – enough time will do that as well!  When pink as required, remove the beet, uncover, and simmer off the remaining sauce.  The finished mixture should be juice, but with no more wetness.
  6. Serve hot, room temperature or cold.  Solo, it can be part of a breakfast plate.  To serve as a slider, slather a bun with some vegan mayo, some slices of dill pickle and big heap of jackfruit mix.  Or mix some into a pasta casserole for added flavour and fun!  It’s even a good starting point for a creamy salad or sandwich base if you add finely minced celery and scallions.

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