Tuesday, March 06, 2012


I have been named an honorary Puerto Rican by my friend Millie. I think it arose from completing the third Puerto Rican dish with her and she said I was a natural but I am thinking that she likes to have help making the labor intensive Pasteles. Whatever the case is, it was loads of fun and more importantly, I got to take tons of them home for us!!! So without further ado, here is my description of making Pasteles (they are kinds like tamales, if I had to type cast them).
First up is the meat portion which consists of cut up pork tenderloin and ham. We took a
trip to a Dominican grocer to pick up plantains and green tomatoes to make the masa.
We needed these potatoes and this root looking stuff too. We each got a pack of banana leaves.
The plantains aren't the easiest to peel. Millie told me to do it under water and it makes it easier. She made this bowl of stuff without me but I know that she combined the starches and bananas in the food processor and ended up with this soft masa.
The meet was cooked with bones and some type of red stuff (very technical!)
The other ingredients include green olives, pickled roasted red pepper and chick peas.
This achiote was in the masa and I can't remember what these seed things are but maybe it's the achiote.

We washed the leaves and patted them dry and then cut them up (with the grain) in single portion sizes.
Then comes the assembly. You lay down a sheet of paper and put a piece of banana leaf down. A little of the achiote is drizzled on and spread around with the back of a spoon (so the stuff won't stick). You layer on first the masa, then the meat and put a couple or three pieces of the other three ingredients.
Then you take the long end of one side of the paper and bring it over the top to line up the ends. You fold the long ends together twice, and then fold the whole thing in half again.
The short ends are folded twice and then brought to the middle like this. Then the tying came using household string. It was lots of fun to do. I guess it is a tradition especially for holidays where everyone gets involved.
They are tied together in groups of two and frozen. When it's time to cook, like last night for dinner, you boil water and drop the packages (still tied) in and boil away for 50 minutes.
This is what they look like when they come out.
You open them up and remove the banana peel (and pitch it) and Voila!

Pasteles! I will say, Puerto Rican food is nothing to look at but it sure tastes good!!!!


maggie zakka said...

omg...my kind of food! sorry i missed out on that lesson, and the feast!!!

spikemuffin said...

You are about as far from being a Puerto Rican as I can imagine but I can see you starting up a food truck in your neighborhood with this delicious looking food. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure about this "West Side Story" being featured on the shores of Lake Michigan :-)

Miracles said...

I have been on the go all day. I've finally opened your blog at 10pm. I was pleased to see the pasteles tutorial. We have to get Maggie in on our next pasteles making party.

Miracles said...

WOW....a food truck sounds like a great idea. Food transcends geographic boundaries. You'd make a killing selling 'FRITURAS'.