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Puerto Rican Pasteles

Pasteles de Pollo 3

¡Feliz Año Nuevo! May 2014 bring you and your loved ones an abundance of health, wealth, prosperity & good eats!!

In Puerto Rico, there are traditional holiday foods. One of my favorites is PASTELES, our version of a tamale. The masa or “dough” is made with plantains, yautía, green bananas or even yuca. The filling usually made with pork, beef or chicken. Once the masa is filled, the pastel is wrapped in a plantain or banana leaf with some achiote oil and frozen. Later, they’re boiled in salted water, unwrapped and eaten with another traditional holiday dish, arroz con gandules. To say “QUE RICO!!!” would be an understatement.

I LOVE pasteles. When I was growing up, my Abuela made the best pasteles I’ve ever had. It took her three days. She grated the plantains and yautía by hand to make the masa and the filling of pork, green olives, garbanzo beans and sometimes raisins and slivered almonds. She’d stuff the masa, wrap them and tie them with twine. I’d wake up in the morning to a house smelling of Island food. The neighbors smelled my Abuela‘s cooking too and showed up un-announced for lunch!

Abuela took her time making those pasteles. She made enough to last the entire Christmas season from December 15 to January, 6, Three Kings Day. Sadly, no one in the family got the recipe, so it’s up to me to re-create them. I have her recipe for alcapurrias, so I can re-construct from there. But the tips and tricks of getting the texture and flavor just right – gone. Cooking is all about the technique and ingredients, my friends. With pasteles – how to get them just dry enough, how much plantain to yautía, how much to fill, how to wrap… Lesson learned: ask your family for those special recipes and write them down!

The pastel in the picture is a traditional pastel de masa filled with chicken. Yes, we ate them on Christmas Day! I also love pasteles made with yuca.

By the way, yuatía is a starchy tubar found in Latin America. We use it to make all kinds of yummy dishes – pasteles, pastelón, sopa, chips. I LOVE Puerto Rican food!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed your holiday season, EcoRicans! ¡Buen provecho!

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