I’ve lived in Texas for the last 15 years and agreed to help a close friend make some traditional Mexican Tamales… It brought back some nostalgic memories of growing up in Orlando with my Aunt and her family and the amazing Puerto Rican pasteles we used to indulge in on occasion.

A “pastele” is essentially a Puerto Rican version of a tamale.  It’s an amazing bundle of banana/plantain goodness filled with meat (normally pork) that is seasoned to perfection… bursting with flavor.  A pastele is a bit more of a full meal whereas a tamale is more of a part of a meal.

For the longest time I thought pasteles were beyond my reach here in Texas until I sought out to find all the necessary ingredients.  Primary ingredients that are hard to find include yautía, achiote oil, and banana leaves.  I had NO idea where to pick that stuff up in the Austin area…

Turns out, yautía is essentially the same as malanga or taro root.  Central Market and Whole Foods both carry taro, but you can also find multiple varieties of the starchy, creamy root at Fiesta Mart.

The recipe is relatively simple, but the process is quite time consuming.  The most time consuming (and tedious) part is the grating of the ingredients for the masa (dough).  This can really be streamlined by using a good food processor with a fine grate blade.

[method]

Peel the malanga/taro, bananas, and plantains.  The green bananas will give you the most trouble.  The easiest way to peel them is to boil the bananas until the skin turns black.

 

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Once everything is peeled, shred it in a food processor… if you don’t have a blade fine enough, you can use a cheese grater.  It has to be super fine… like… parmesan cheese fine to the extent that the result is more of a mush than shredded cheese looking banana/malanga mix.

Pasteles - 06

Season the banana/malanga/plantain mixture with 1/2 cup achiote oil, adobo, salt, paprika, coconut milk (real milk if you’re into that), and chipotle powder.  Feel free to add any additional spices you wish.  I tried kicking it up a notch with some ghost pepper salt (you WON’T be disappointed!).

If your grater or food processor is very large to the point that the results are lumpy instead of creamy, find a way of blending it into a puree.  I’ve used a blender, but the blender has to be VERY powerful.

The result of this puree is called “Masa” (dough)

Place the masa in the freezer (or fridge if you have all the time in the world) just to get it less “soupy”

Take the shredded pork or picadillo and add the green olives.  Heat and season to taste.

Cut the banana leaves into 6×6 squares

Cut the parchment paper into 24 x 18″ pieces

Put the cut banana leaf in the center of the parchment paper and lightly coat it with achiote oil

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add a “spoonful” of masa (about .75 cups) and spread out

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cover the top of the masa with the meat mixture (a little more than 1/4 cup)

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Fold the pastele the special way… fold it in half, then roll it.  Use kitchen twine to tie it up nice and tight.

 

 

 

 

The best way to do these is to throw them in the freezer… they’ll keep FOREVER (no, not really… but for a really long time, 6 months to 1 year).

When you’re ready to cook them, throw them in boiling water for 1 hour and you’re ready to go!  Once they’ve been cooked, you can reheat them in the microwave for 1 minute and you’ll have an amazing meal!

Enjoy!

[recipe]


Texan/Cubanized Puerto Rican Pasteles
 
Ingredients
  • 5lbs Green Bananas
  • 5lbs Malanga
  • 2 Green Plantains
  • 2 cups Achiote Oil, divided
  • 2 tbsp adobo
  • 1.5 tbsp pink himalayan salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked spanish paprika
  • ¾ cup coconut milk
  • ½ tsp Ghost Pepper Salt (optional)
  • 2 lbs Cuban Pulled Pork or Picadillo (or a mixture of the two)
  • 1 Jar Sliced Spanish Olives
  • Banana Leaves
  • Kitchen Twine
Instructions
  1. Peel the malanga/taro, bananas, and plantains. The green bananas will give you the most trouble. The easiest way to peel them is to boil the bananas until the skin turns black.
  2. Once everything is peeled, shred it in a food processor... if you don't have a blade fine enough, you can use a cheese grater. It has to be super fine... like... parmesan cheese fine to the extent that the result is more of a mush than shredded cheese looking banana/malanga mix.
  3. Season the banana/malanga/plantain mixture with ½ cup achiote oil, adobo, salt, paprika, coconut milk (real milk if you're into that), and chipotle powder. Feel free to add any additional spices you wish. I tried kicking it up a notch with some ghost pepper salt (you WON'T be disappointed!).
  4. If your grater or food processor is very large to the point that the results are lumpy instead of creamy, find a way of blending it into a puree. I've used a blender, but the blender has to be VERY powerful.
  5. The result of this puree is called "Masa" (dough)
  6. Place the masa in the freezer (or fridge if you have all the time in the world) just to get it less "soupy"
  7. Take the shredded pork or picadillo and add the green olives. Heat and season to taste.
  8. Cut the banana leaves into 6x6 squares
  9. Cut the parchment paper into 24 x 18" pieces
  10. Put the cut banana leaf in the center of the parchment paper and lightly coat it with achiote oil
  11. add a "spoonful" of masa (about .75 cups) and spread out
  12. cover the top of the masa with the meat mixture (a little more than ¼ cup)
  13. Fold the pastele the special way... fold it in half, then roll it. Use kitchen twine to tie it up nice and tight.
  14. The best way to do these is to throw them in the freezer... they'll keep FOREVER (no, not really... but for a really long time, 6 months to 1 year).
  15. When you're ready to cook them, throw them in boiling water for 1 hour and you're ready to go! Once they've been cooked, you can reheat them in the microwave for 1 minute and you'll have an amazing meal!