One of my many memories helping mom in the kitchen brings me back to the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas when mom would wake me and my sister up at 7am on a SATURDAY and sit us at the dinner table with graters and peeled root vegetables. She would blast Christmas music to put us in a good mood and serve us sweet cafe con leche while we grated root vegetables for a massive batch of pasteles.
Pasteles. They are essentially savory pies made of green bananas, plantains, and potato with a pork or chicken filling. They arent the most beautiful things in the world… but pretty freakin Delicious. Ever since I started this blog I have wanted to attempt to make my own pasteles. The only thing is, its A LOT OF work to do alone.
I have asked my mom and she laughed.
I have asked my sister but she lives in Delaware…and I dont drive.
While casually hanging out with the Dude a few weeks ago, i threw it out there. “I wanna make pasteles
“Me too”
“Dude, we should totally have a pastele day!”
He’s easy. We set a date and looked for recipes. Our epic miscommunication came when he thought i meant pastelitos (fried meat pies…or empandas)… instead of pasteles… upon which i said “No Wonder he volunteered so quickly”
But when i corrected the miscommunication he was still on board. So off we went.
This recipe is intense… so be warned. This recipe will make a little more than a dozen pasteles.
For the Filling:
2 lbs of pork butt (i used shoulder- i prefer the butt… twss)
1 green bell pepper diced
1 spanish onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced I chopped my onion and pepper and minced my garlic but the recipe i read said to put the chopped veggies in the food processor- DONT DO THIS! It makes your veggies SOUPY!
After a salt bath on the pork, remove the skin. This part was gross. Note to Self: Ask Dude to do it if there is a next time.

Once the skin is removed

hack away at it and slice pork into small bite size pieces.

Next in a large saute pan, heat your veggies in a few tablespoons of oil. Saute the onion garlic and pepper mixture for 8 mins over medium heat,

Then add pork. Cook till the pork is done. I gave mine a taste and added adobo… but the recipe called for salt. I wanted more flavor. Allow mixture to cool and store in an air tight container.
I made this a day in advance to save time while making the pasteles… and because everything tastes better the 2nd day…
On the 2nd day, Dude came over all the way from Brooklyn. Thats dedication. For the “masa” or the dough you will need:
5 green cooking bananas
1 plantain
2.5 lbs of yautia or taro root
1 russet potato
salt or adobo
Using a grater- get to work. Grate all that stuff listed above. I was grating while dude was peeling because he knows my fear or peeling..then he saw me in action on the grater and took over… Thanks for caring about the well being of my fingers, Dude. Much appreciated.
While he was grating and being awesome, i started on the oil.
1/2 cup of oil
3 tablespoons of Achiote
Boil the two together till the oil turns color. Then strain the achiote out and save the oil for the folding part.
When all the ingredients have been grated, give them a good stir and add a bit of carnation milk to loosen up the dough. I totally forgot to season the dough at this point… but please remember to add salt or adobo! PLEASE!

To assemble pasteles you will need:
15 sheets of parchment paper 12 x 10 inches
15 banana leaves 6 x 8 inches
kitchen twinePlace parchment paper down, a banana leaf in the center, a few spoonfuls of achiote oilm 1/3 cup of masa, and a heaping spoonful of the pork mixture.
Fold the banana leaves over the dough to create a pocket. then Fold the parchment paper over it to create an envelope of yumminess.
There are some really awesome photos of how to properly assemble pasteles on the internet… of which i neglected to look at. This is my first pastele… i showed Dude how to make it and let him take over on the folding while i did the stringing.
After the first two were done, i threw them into a pot of boiling water and set them to boil for 1 hour and 10 mins.
30 minutes into the cooking process I started a pot of arroz Moro and then Dude and I had a mini How I Met Your Mother Marathon that continued right into dinner…

Im glad i made a small batch for my first try because there are a few things I would do differently. One, i would totally season the masa. The pasteles were firm and slightly sweet… they definitely needed some salty loving…but they were still good for my first try. And two, i would use pork butt… And if you are planning on making this- clear your schedule. The prep took 2 hrs and the cooking took longer than an hour.
When Dude gets over the trauma of the 2 hr commute from my house to his, he might come back for pastelitos or sushi.
Or I might have to trek to Brooklyn.