For many Boricuas, Christmas is the season of Pasteles. As soon as November arrives, we embark on making Pasteles in preparation for the upcoming festivities. A complicated and labor-intensive festive dish. Making the Pasteles is often a family event, as the dish requires many hands and days to assemble. In my case I divided the work into two days, one to prepare the masa and the other to assemble the Pasteles.
Ingredients for the meat stew;
- 5 pounds of butt roast (no bone)
- ½ onion
- ½ cubanelle pepper
- 1 can of tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon of vinegar
- Olives to taste
- 3 tablespoon of sofrito
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 1 tablespoon annatto oil (you can make this yourself)
- 2 packages of sazón with Annatto (achiote)
- 2 tablespoon of adobo
Ingredients for the masa;
- 4 pounds de yautía (malanga lila [purple])
- 8 pounds green banana
- ½ cup of annatto oil
- 3 tablespoon of adobo
- ½ cup of the stew’s broth
- 3 packages of sazón with Annatto
- 2 tablespoon salt
- 1 ½ pounds of squash
- Roasted bell pepper to taste
- Half a green plantain (optional)
- 1 package of banana/plantain leaf
- 1 package of parchment paper (the one you use to bake with)
- butcher’s twine
How to make the meat stew;
In an instant pot, or large pot
- cut the meat into approx 1-1.5 inch cubes
- season the meat with the adobo
- add the rest of the ingredients
- Use «Stew» function
If using a pot, bring the pot to a rolling boil and then turn it down and let is simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until meat is tender.
How to prepare the masa;
In a blender, or food processor
After peeling the skin off all of the ingredients.
Cut them into approximately 2 inch chunks and put it in salted water
Start adding the chunks into the food processor/blender and blend until it becomes sort of a paste.
Use the broth to help process the ingredients but be careful because if you put to many broth the pastel will become fluffy
After all of the bananas, plantains, squash, and root vegetables have been turned into the paste, add the rest of the seasoning and ingredients. Taste the flavor, something that I do is that I take like a small spoon and put that in the microwave for about 30 seconds and then you can taste it.
Procedure to assemble the Pasteles;
If you can’t find the pastel paper you can use baking paper (this is the one I am using). We cut the paper about 9-10 inches in a square shape. We cut the banana leaf about 7-8 inches in a square shape. Clean the leaves with hot water and put them in the microwave for 20 seconds or instead Carefully Heat them slightly on the stove to make them malleable.
In this order; paper, leaf and then we put a few drops of the achiote oil on the leaf and spread it with a spoon until the leaf is completely covered with the oil. The important thing is that the area where you put the masa has oil because this will help us so that masa does not stick to the leaf. Then put 3 large tablespoons in the center of the sheet, spread with a spoon until the masa covers a large amount of the leaf. In the center of the masa we put the mixture of meat, chickpeas and olives. Close the pastel by joining the two ends. You have to do this movement quickly. With your fingers, push the filling towards the center of the pastel. Make a crease where the pastel paper meets. Turn it over to bring the folded seam to the other end of the pastel. Fold the two sides by pushing the masa again with your fingers and fold the corners. Close with thread. (See photos) You can join two pasteles or make them simple.