Making and serving pasteles at Christmas time is a Puerto Rican tradition. It's hard work, but well worth the effort. Get together a bunch of friends and make a day of it. Be sure to make enough for everyone to take home.
There are as many pastele recipes as there are cooks. This recipe is my own, based on my likes and dislikes. You can always add or take away ingredients to meet your preferences.
For wrapping you will need 40 banana leaves (cut into approx. 10 inch x 5 inch rectangles), 20 pieces of parchment paper (cut into approx. 8 inch x 4 inch rectangles) and 20 pieces of kitchen string (cut into 18-inch lengths).
- 2 pounds diced pork
- 4 ajíces dulces (small sweet peppers)
- 1 small onion
- 2 tablesoons recaito
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon adobo
- 1 tablespoons oregano (dry flakes)
- 1 bay leaf
- Masa Dough:
- 4 pounds yautía
- 6 green bananas
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon achiote oil (or enough to reach desired consistency)
Part 1 - Make the Stuffing
- Brown the pork pieces in a pan.
- Add the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
- Cook until the pork is no longer pink inside.
- Set aside and let cool.
Part 2 - Make the Masa Dough
- In a large bowl, peel and grate the yautía and the green bananas together.
- Stir in the salt and enough achiote oil to moisten the dough and add a little color. You are now ready to assemble and wrap the pasteles.
Part 3 - Wrap the Pasteles
- Set the dough aside and prepare a work surface to assemble and wrap the pasteles. If you have friends helping you, set up an assembly line.
- See the step-by-step guide to assembling and wrapping pasteles. For each pastele, lay out a piece of parchment paper, topped with one piece of banana leaf. Brush with achiote oil and add 1 1/2 to 2 spoonfuls of masa into the center of the leaf. Add one spoonful of meat into the center and top with another spoonful of masa. Brush a second banana leaf with oil and place the oiled side down on top of the masa. Bring the top and bottom edges of the parchment paper over the top, fold or roll down the edges to make a horizontal seam. Tuck the ends under. Tie with a string.in both directions.
- Set aside the pasteles you are going to eat right away. You can freeze the rest.
Part 4 - Cook the Pasteles
- Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. There should be enough water to cover the pasteles.
- Boil the pasteles for 1 hour.
- Unwrap the pasteles before serving.