Pasteles en Hoja (Caribbean Style Tamales)

pasteles en hoja

Pasteles, a traditional dish in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, are similar to tamales but the difference is the ingredients used to make the dough. Pasteles en Hojas are particularly popular during the Christmas and New Year holidays. They are often served alongside roast pork and Rice with pigeon peas (Arroz con Guandules)

In the Caribbean, pasteles en hoja are made with a dough that includes green bananas and other starchy ingredients, rather than the corn-based dough used in tamales. The fillings, typically beef, pork, or chicken stews, are then wrapped in banana or plantain leaves and boiled for 30-45 minutes.

In addition to green bananas, plantains and yautia (yam) are also used in the dough. If only green plantains are used, the resulting dough will be tough, so ripe yellow plantains are often added to achieve the desired texture.

The bananas, plantains, and taro are left in salted water until you're ready to blend them, this prevents them from turning brown.

Over low heat sauté the annatto in oil or shortening.

The masa (dough) for pasteles en hoja is ready.

Pork shoulder seasoned with Dominican sazón.

Wash plantain leaves and steam them over the 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 leaf and in the center. Top with the filling and fold over. Form in the shape of a small envelope.


 Cook over boiling water with salt for 30 minutes or freeze them to cook later on. 

 Serve with ketchup or Tabasco sauce. 

Dominican Pasteles en Hoja 

24 green bananas
2 plantains
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 pork meat 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 cubanelle peppers  
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 is 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 by 30 minutes or until it’s tender, and reserve the tomato paste to add in the last 20 minutes of cooking. Try to leave with abundant sauce. Set aside.

2. For the dough (masa): Peel and rinse the bananas, plantains, and yams; cut into pieces and leave them soaking in water with salt, for about 30 minutes or until ready to process. Leaving them in water prevents them from darkening. Drain before using.

3. Sauté the annatto in oil or shortening. Be cautious and do not overheat the annatto or it will end up with a bitter taste. Reserve ⅓ of this mixture to grease each sheet of plantain 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 a 10-inch square piece of plantain to leaf, grease it 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 it, 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 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-size pasteles.

dominican pasteles

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