December 20 2002

How to Make Puerto Rican Pasteles

This is a lot of work, but worth it for the holidays

By Francisco Sola

Parrandas is Christmas caroling Puerto Rican style. Friends gather late in the evening to go from one house to the next singing traditional songs. The parranderos must surprise the unsuspecting friend and wake them with their music. The home owner has already given plenty of “hints” that he is prepared to receive a parranda. The parranderos gather outside the front door and at a signal the musicians play and the rest sing. At each house they stop for a while and party, then they go to the next house. Often the members of the house join the parranda and it grows in numbers during the evening.


Filling: two pounds boneless lean pork meat
six tablespoons sour orange juice.

In a pilón, crush and mix:

4 sweet chili peppers,w/o seeds
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp whole dried oregano
1 tbsp salt
4 fresh culantro leaves
Cut into cubes 1 lb lean cured ham
1 green pepper, seeded
1 onion, peeled
1 can garbanzos, inc. liquid =1 cup water
24 green olives, stuffed with pimientos
1½ tbsp capers
6 tbsp Achiote

Wash and dry pork meat. Cut into very small cupes. Mix meat with sour orange juice.

Add the crushed chili peppers, garlic, oregano, culantro leaves and salt.

Add also ham, onion and green pepper.

In a sauacepan, bring to a boil everything including garbanzos, and water.

Drain the liquid over the meat mixture . Remove skins from chickpeas and add chickpeas to the meat mixture.

Add olives and capers.

Add ingredients all together, mix well, cover and set in refrigerator until the masa is ready.


4 lbs white yautia, peeled
4 lbs yellow yautia, peeled
15 green bananas , peeled and rinsed in salted water
2 cups lukewarm milk
1¼ cups(10 oz) Achiote
2½ tbsp salt

Wash, drain, grate the yautias and bananas. Crush gradually in a pilón the yautias and bananas. Mix in a bowl with lukewarm milk to make a smooth masa paste. Add the achiote and salt, mix well , cover and set aside.

Use twenty bundles of plantain leaves. They should be long and wide. With a knife, remove the central ridge to give greater flexibility to the

leaves. Divide leaves into pieces, about 12 inches square. Wash and clean leaves with a damp cloth and...

Estrella: “Wait... aguanta la lancha! Hold it, a cotton-pickin’ porrorican minute!”

Don Jíbaro: “¿Qué eh...? What is it, muchacha?”

Estrella: “Mire, Don Jíbaro, por poco se le olvida decir que la hoja, después de lavada, se amortigua (o sea se pasa por el fuego lentamente) y esto además que le dá más flexibilidad a la hoja y le saca ese sabor a plátano tan rico que se le pega al pastel.”

Don Jíbaro: “¡Ay sí, m’hija, gracias por recordarme, puchunga! Por que si no se amortigua la hoja en el fueguito, pues cuando uno va a envolvé‚ los pasteles, se le rasga la hoja. ¡Oye, nena tu tienes más razón que na!”

Sooo... como te iba diciendo...

Place 3 tbsp of the masa on a leaf and spread it out thinly. Place 3 tbsp of the filling in the center of the masa. Fold the leaf one half over the other to make a top and bottom layer of plantain leaf and enclose the contents in it. Fold it once more. Fold the right and left ends of the leaf toward the center.

Tie the pasteles together in pairs, with a string, placing folded edges facing each other.

In large pot, bring to a boil 5 qts of water with 3½ tbsps salt. Add 12 pasteles and boil, covered, for one hour. Halfway, turn over pasteles. After the hour, remove pasteles from the water at once. Repeat for the rest of the pasteles.

(Reprinted from [], December 16, 2002)

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