Growing up in the Puerto Rican culture, food plays an important role in our daily lives. There are three types of food Puerto Ricans tend to eat on a regular basis which are rice, beans, and of course meat. When it comes to meat, Puerto Ricans consume their fair share of chicken and beef but when it comes to pork they just can’t resist eating it.
Puerto Ricans love pork especially roasted pork aka pernil in Spanish. My family did not make pernil on a regular basis, just on the holidays or for special occasions. When we ate it, it was like a special treat and a change from the typical chicken dish. The marinade my mother and grandmother would use on the pernil took the dish to another level.
When I eliminated meat from my diet that meant no more pernil too. At first, I was in a dilemma because I enjoyed eating pernil. Then I thought if I do eat it then I would be ingesting all of the antibiotics and carcinogens that is in the meat and reversing any progress I made in improving my health. I didn’t want to compromise my progress so that was out of the question.
I accepted the fact that I will never have pernil again. I just kept telling myself that it may seem like a sacrifice but at the end of the day I was making the right decision and I know my body feels good without it.
It wasn’t until I was looking for a vegan recipe on Pinterest that I came across a pork inspired recipe that looked just like pork but was made with jackfruit instead. “What is this jackfruit they speak of” I thought to myself. I’ve never heard of it let alone seen it in the supermarket.
Jackfruit is a type of fruit that has a texture similar to pork and chicken. It comes in two colors, green and yellow. Green jackfruit is the young unripen fruit that is used as a meat substitute and is commonly used to make vegan shredded pork sandwiches. In order to cook with jackfruit, it must be green. Yellow jackfruit is the ripened fruit and you cannot cook with it once it turns yellow. You can eat yellow jackfruit just the way it is.
I thought if this is used to make pork inspired dishes then I could use this ingredient to recreate all my favorite pork dishes, including pernil. After researching where I could buy jackfruit, I got my hands on a can of it. I recommend buying the canned jackfruit because its already cut up for you and cutting up a whole jackfruit can get quite gooey and messy. Unless you know how to cut a whole jackfruit and don’t mind the gooey mess then go for it.
I made the jackfruit in the marinade my mother and grandmother use to make the pernil and roasted it in the oven to make my plant-based version. Not only did it look like chunks of pork, it tasted just like pernil. I even had my uncle who is a fan of pernil and not a vegan try it. He really enjoyed it and said it tasted like pernil and even ate several pieces.
After creating this recipe, I no longer yearn for pernil and prefer to eat my vegan version of it instead. I hope you will too!
Vegan Pernil (Roasted "Pork" Chunks)
Get the printable recipe here.
Yield: 4 servings
2 cans young jackfruit
1 cup vegetable broth
5-6 teaspoons garlic cloves minced
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon adobo
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1. Drain the jackfruit from the can and rinse the off brine.
2. Place the marinade and jackfruit pieces in a plastic bag and seal the bag.
3. Marinate the jackfruit overnight in the refrigerator.
4. Preheat oven to 400°F.
5. Pour the jackfruit chunks and marinade onto a baking dish.
6. Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until fork tender stirring halfway to prevent the pieces from drying out.
7. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes
8. Serve with your favorite side dish or add it to a sandwich.