Pasteles aren’t appealing to the eye but delicious to the palette. There are as many pastele recipes as there are cooks. The recipe changes according to what is grown in the particular region. This is the one I am familiar with. Making and serving pasteles at Christmas time is a Puerto Rican tradition. Its hard work, but well worth the effort. There’s always a gathering of family members for the long and tedious work. As many as 50 to 100 pasteles are made at one time while traditional Christmas songs are played and the adults drink lots of coquito (look for this post).They hold up well in the refrigerator and can be frozen. As a child each one of us had a task. I do not make them but do enjoy eating them when they are available at restaurants or while vacationing on the island of Puerto Rico. They’re only available during the holidays. Pasteles were originally made for the traveling “Parranderos” (carolers). These were people who traveled with their instruments through town on the back of a flatbed truck singing and playing festive songs. Along the way, they would stop at homes where an invite would provide a little coquito and pastele. It was nourishment to help the travelers as they continued on their journey of spreading Christmas cheer. Everyone would laugh and dance as they played while sharing in the true meaning of giving. Having grown up in Brooklyn, New York, I had never experienced this. However, during the one year I attended school in Puerto Rico I learned about these traditions. It showed me another way to celebrate Christmas. 2014©written by Isadora
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 4 hours
2 pounds diced pork
4 ajíces dulces (small sweet peppers)
1 small onion
2 tablespoons 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
40 banana leaves (cut into approx. 10 in X 5 in rectangles)
20 Pieces parchment paper (cut into approx. 8 in X 4 in rectangles)
20 Pieces of kitchen string (Cut into 18 inch. lengths)
PART 1 – MAKE THE STUFFING
1. Brown the pork pieces in a pan.
2. Add the rest of the stuffing ingredients.
3. Cook until the pork is no longer pink inside.
4. Set aside and let cool.
PART 2 – MAKE THE MASA DOUGH
1. In a large bowl, peel and grate the yautía and the green bananas together.
2. 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
￼ 1. 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.
2. Follow my step-by-step guide to assembling and wrapping pasteles.
3. Set aside the pasteles you are going to eat right away. You can freeze the rest.
PART 4 – COOK THE PASTELES
1. Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil. There should be enough water to cover the pasteles.
2. Boil the pasteles for 1 hour.
3. Unwrap the pasteles before serving.
Serves: Makes about 20.