Island Bites is a Puerto Rican cook with decades of experience in the kitchen. She's an expert in Latin American cuisine.
What Is a Pastel?
Eating pasteles during the holiday season is a Puerto Rican tradition. Because they are labor-intensive, only some people make them. When the holiday season arrives, they make hundreds of these tasty treats to sell. Typically, pasteles are sold by the dozen.
A pastel is similar to a tamal, but the dough is mainly made with green bananas and yautia instead of corn. It is filled with pork, wrapped in a banana leaf, and boiled.
Although not as popular as a traditional pastel, pasteles de yuca are also a cherished dish during the holidays in Puerto Rico. The dough is made with yuca or cassava. Even though some people make pork-filled pasteles de yuca, they are commonly made with chicken filling.
To make the filling
- 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cubed
- 2 tbs sofrito
- 6–8 pimento olives, sliced
- 1 roasted bell pepper, diced
- 1 small box raisins
- 2 tbs annatto oil
- 2 oz tomato puree (or 1 tbs tomato paste plus 2 tbs water)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 4 oz canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed
- 1/4 cup water
- salt and pepper
Instructions for the filling
- Saute sofrito in annatto oil for two or three minutes at medium-high temperature.
- Add tomato puree and spices. Let it cook for a minute or two.
- Add the chicken, salt, pepper and water. Cover and reduce the temperature. Let it simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Set aside 1/4 cup of the chicken sauce/broth. Then, add olives, raisins and pimento. Let it cook uncovered for five minutes at medium temperature.
- Let it cool completely.
How to Make Annatto Oil
Add annatto seeds to cold oil. Turn heat on and let it simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the seed and reserve the oil.
How to Make the dough
- 4 lbs yuca, grated
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup reserved broth
- 3 tbs annatto oil
- 2 tsp salt
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Instructions for the Dough
- Remove excess liquid from the grated cassava.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until well combined.
- Adjust salt if necessary.
To Wrap Yuca Pasteles
- yuca dough
- chicken filling
- pieces of parchment paper
- banana leaf squares
- 40-inch pieces kitchen twine
- annatto oil
- a brush
- Heat the banana leaf pieces to make them pliable.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Place a piece of banana leaf in the center.
- Brush the leaf with annatto oil. Add a scoop of dough.
- Slightly flatten and spread the dough. Place a spoon full of filling along the center of the dough.
- Fold the parchment paper in half. Then, fold the edges to form a horizontal seam. Now, fold each end of the parchment paper.
- Tie the pastel with a piece of kitchen twine.
How to Wrap and Tie Pasteles
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How to Cook Pasteles
- Boil pasteles in salted water for 45 minutes.
- You can freeze raw pasteles. They will last up to 6 months in the freezer.
- To cook frozen pasteles, boil in salted water for about an hour.
Questions & Answers
Question: How many pasteles for 3 pounds of sugar?
Answer: Sugar is not an ingredient.
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