Yucatecan Jackfruit Pibil Tamales

  • Serving
    makes about 1 dozen
Key Ingredients


  • 2 lbs. freshly ground masa for tamales Or 4 cups organic masa harina
  • Approximately 2 ¾ cup hot water
  • 1 to 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • Optional mix ins to veggie broth: 1-2 veggie chicken bouillon cubes &/or 1 TB nutritional yeast
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
  • 8 oz (by weight) Nutiva organic shortening
  • 3 15 oz cans young green jackfruit in brine, rinsed and drained
  • ¼ cup Nutiva avocado oil
  • Banana leaves for roasting jackfruit
  • 12 sheets of banana leaf (cut into 10” squares)
  • Recado spice mix for jackfruit (recipe follows)
  • Steamer pot for tamales

    Recado spice mix for jackfruit:

    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup lime juice
    • 1 tablespoon achiote powder
    • 7 garlic cloves
    • 1 tablespoon ground pepper (coarse)
    • 1 tablespoon dry oregano leaf
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1/2 white onion, peeled and quartered
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf
    • Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.

          Preparing Jackfruit:

          1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees f

          2. Drain and rinse canned jackfruit several times to wash away the brine flavor. Using your hands, break jackfruit apart until it resembles a shredded pork texture. Discard any hard pieces or chop them down with a knife. Pat dry with a paper towel, then coat jackfruit with Recado spice mix marinade and Nutiva avocado oil. Taste for salt, add as needed. For tamales, season things just to the brink of overly salty. Through the steaming process some saltiness will dissipate.

          3. Line a sheet pan with fresh banana leaves and spread jackfruit mixture on top of the leaves. Cover with more banana leaves, and then cover with foil to secure. Roast in the oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, uncover and allow the jackfruit to cool. Jackfruit can be prepared a couple days ahead.


          Preparing Masa:

          1. If preparing masa with masa harina, combine the masa harina with hot water in a large bowl and mix well until a firm dough is formed. Add more water if necessary. Set aside.

          2. In a stand mixer add Nutiva shortening, baking powder, and salt. Whip until fluffy. Gradually add the masa in a little at a time to incorporate the shortening mixture. Once thoroughly combined, add enough vegetable broth until the dough resembles very soft cookie dough. Mixture should be soft, hydrated and spreadable but not runny. Taste for saltiness. Masa should be close to tasting almost too salty. Through the steaming process the excess saltiness will dissipate. Set Aside and prepare your banana leaves.

          3. Prepare your banana leaves by cutting them into large squares (approximately 10”) Take each square and toast it over an open flame or stove top flame until lightly charred, soft and pliable. Do this to each leaf and set aside.


          Assembling Tamales:

          1. Fill your steamer pot with water and set on the stove to preheat.

          2. Scoop or spoon 1/3 cup of prepared masa in the center of the banana leaf square. Using a spatula, or spoon, spread the masa into a 4x4 square. Similarly you can use a plastic food bag or parchment paper that has been cut to size to press down & spread the masa. Apply light even pressure with the plastic or paper, and peel it away. Fill the center of the masa with a few tablespoons of the jackfruit filling, and fold the banana leaf into a little packet. Fold one side of the leaf toward the center, and then fold the two ends towards the center, creating an envelope. Then finally fold the top side to overlap. You can tie string around the packet to secure the seal if desired. Folding the edges over like an envelope usually is enough to secure the seal.

          3. Arrange these tamales laying flat in the bottom of the steamer pot. Lay them like bricks, spreading them out and slightly overlapping each tamal so that they are not directly on top of each other. Arranging each layer like this helps to distribute the weight so that the bottom layer doesn't flatten too much. Steam banana leaf tamales for 90 minutes & turn off the heat. Keep them covered in the pot for another 20 minutes before serving.

          4. Best served with a habanero based salsa, pickled onions or pickled carrots. 


           By Chef Denise Vallejo of @alchemyorganica


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