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Pasteles

Similar to the tamale, pasteles are traditional Latin American and Caribbean masa-based pockets wrapped in banana leaves. They can take many forms depending on who is making them-everyone has their own tried and true family recipe.

Tasty Team

Total Time

2 hr 40 min

2 hr 40 min

Prep Time

40 minutes

40 min

Cook Time

1 hr

1 hr

Total Time

2 hr 40 min

2 hr 40 min

Prep Time

40 minutes

40 min

Cook Time

1 hr

1 hr

Ingredients

for 16 pasteles

Bell Pepper Purée

  • 4 small red bell peppers, & green bell peppers seeded and roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ½ medium spanish onion, chopped
  • ¼ fresh cilantro

Masa

  • 5 small green plantains, peeled and chopped
  • ½ lb kabocha squash (225 g), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 in (2 1/2 cm) pieces
  • ½ lb yucca (225 g), peeled and cut into 1 in (2 1/2 cm) pieces
  • 2 large ripe plantains, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Annatto Oil

  • 1 teaspoon achiote
  • 1 cup olive oil (240 mL)

Spiced Ground Beef

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 small sweet chiles, seeded and minced
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tablespoons za'atar
  • 2 ½ lb ground beef (1 kg)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock (480 mL), or water

Assembly

  • 16 banana leaves, wiped clean and trimmed of the tough strip that was attached to the stem
  • kosher salt, for boiling

Special Equipment

  • 16 kitchen twines, 30 in (76 cm)
  • offset spatula
  • pastry brush

Nutrition Info

Shop ingredients with
    Calories 562
    Fat 31g
    Carbs 56g
    Fiber 4g
    Sugar 21g
    Protein 17g

Estimated values based on one serving size.

Preparation

  1. Make the bell pepper purée: Add the bell peppers, garlic, onion, and cilantro to a food processor or blender and purée until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. Wipe out the food processor.
  2. Make the masa: Add the green plantains to the food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the kabocha squash, yautía blanca, and ripe plantains and process until completely smooth; this may take 5–10 minutes. Add the milk, salt, and butter and continue blending until well incorporated. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Make the annatto oil: In a small saucepan, combine the achiote powder and olive oil. Warm over medium-low heat until the oil begins to shimmer slightly, whisking to ensure the achiote doesn’t burn. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 1 minute.
  4. Add 1-2 teaspoons of the annatto oil to the masa mixture and stir to incorporate. Cover the masa with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Set the remaining annatto oil aside.
  5. Make the spiced ground beef: In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the ginger, chiles, and red onion. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the coriander and za’atar. Cook for 2–3 minutes, until the spices are toasted and fragrant.
  7. Increase the heat to medium and add the ground beef. Season with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and the pepper. Cook the beef is until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes.
  8. Stir in the reserved bell pepper purée and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Simmer for 15 minutes until the flavors have melded, adding chicken stock as needed if the mixture gets too dry--some bubbling liquid should always be visible.
  9. Remove the pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to scoop the ground beef into a bowl, then cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. Discard any excess liquid.
  10. Assemble the pasteles: Gather the banana leaves, annatto oil, masa, ground beef mixture, kitchen twine, offset spatula, and pastry brush, and set near a large, clean work surface.
  11. Heat a griddle or flat grill pan over medium-high heat. Working gently and carefully, lightly press one of the banana leaves onto the griddle with a kitchen towel. The leaf should quickly change color in the area where it meets the griddle. Rotate and repeat until the entire leaf has changed color and is hot and pliable.
  12. Place the banana leaf in the center of the work surface with the veins running horizontally. Brush the leaf with annatto oil. Scoop 4 tablespoons of masa onto the bottom center of the leaf. Scoop 3 tablespoons of ground beef into the center of the masa. Fold the bottom of the banana leaf up and over the filling to meet the top of the leaf, then fold the top of the leaf back over the center. Gently fold in the sides. Tie with twine to secure. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to form 16 pasteles total.
  13. Bring 2 large pots filled halfway with water to a boil, then salt generously.
  14. Lay the pasteles in the pots, being careful not to overcrowd, and cook for 30 minutes.
  15. Let the pasteles rest for 5–10 minutes before unwrapping. The pasteles can also be wrapped and frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
  16. Enjoy!
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