Pasteles are a tamale-like food prepared throughout the year in Dominican Republic and in Puerto Rico, but more so at Christmas and New Years. This is one of the most requested side dish to go along the roast pork and Rice with pigeon peas (Arroz con Guandules).
The Caribbean pasteles en hoja are very similar to the tamales in Mexico and in Central America, but the dough and the fillings are different. Instead of corn-based dough this recipe uses green banana and other starchy meals to make a savory masa (dough). Beef, pork or chicken stews are our most common fillings. The pasteles dough with its filling are wrapped in banana or plantain leaves and then boiled in water for about 30-45 minutes.
Aside from green bananas, plantains and yautia [yam] are also used for the dough. If only green plantains are used, the dough will result tough; you will need to add at least one or two ripe yellow plantains.
After peeling a cutting the green bananas and other starchy meals leave them in salted water, this prevents them fromturniing brown.
Over low heat mix the sautee annato in oil or shortening.
Masa (dough) is ready.
Pork shoulder seasoned with Dominican sazón.
Wash plantain leaves, and steam them over fire or in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two. This process will help them get more manageable.
Place pasteles dough over the plantain leave and in the center. Top with the filling and fold over. Form in shape of a small envelope.
Serve with ketchup or tabasco sauce.
Dominican Pasteles en Hoja
24 green bananas
1 ripe yellow plantain
1 pound white yautia [malanga]
1 pound yellow yautia [malanga]
1 liter of milk or chicken broth
3 Tablespoons annatto (natural coloring )
2-3 tablespoons salt or to taste
½ cup oil or 1 cup shortening
Juice of 2 sour oranges
Banana or plantain leaves
kitchen twine for tying
Pork Stew Meat filling:
2 pounds ground beef or ground pork shoulder meat (I prefer to cook the meat in cut into cubes until it’s very soft and break up pretty easily with a fork )
1 box of raisins (optional)
2 bell peppers
1 large onion
3 small habanero peppers seedless
5 cloves of garlic mashed
2 Tablespoons olive and capers
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Sour juice of 1 orange
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cups of hot water
How to make them:
1. Preparing filling: Use the Pork stew or beef picadillo recipe found here, Mari’s Cakes Picadillo de Res. In a large skillet heat the oil and stir fry the meat until its color in no longer pink and has browned a little. Add all the other ingredients and enough hot water to almost cover. If you are using ground beef simmer for 30 minutes. If you decide to cook pork shoulder meat cut into one inch cubes, increase simmering time 30 minutes or until it’s tender, and reserves the tomato paste to add in the last 20 minutes of cooking. Try to leave with abundant sauce. Set aside.
2. For the starchy dough (masa): Peel and rinse the bananas, plantains and yams; cut into pieces and leave them soaking in water with salt, about 30 minutes or until ready to process. Leaving them in water prevents the starchy meals from darkening. Drain before using.
3. Sauté the annatto in oil or shortening. Be cautious and do not to overheat the annatto or it will end up with a bitter taste. Reserve ⅓ of this mixture to grease each sheet of plantains leaves. Grate, blend or process the starchy vegetables with the broth, annatto [achiote] mixture and sour orange juice. Add salt to taste.
4. To assemble: Take an 10 inch square piece of plantain leave, grease with some of the annatto oil, and place about ½ cup of the dough mixture [masa] in the center. Spread out a little and in the center add 2-3 Tablespoons of filling. Fold up like a letter, and fold in the two ends to seal completely. To secure, tie it up tightly with kitchen twine. Aluminum or parchment paper can be used to help seal it even more, or to be able to use a smaller size plantain leaves. Continue packing like this until all the masa is used.
5. Preparation: Store uncooked in the freezer for up to one month. Cook in boiling water for 30-45 minutes. Unwrap and serve hot. Serve accompanied with ketchup or Tabasco sauce. Note: For every liter of water used to cook the pasteles add one tablespoon of salt.
Yield: 30 medium- sized pasteles.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18