Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pasteles Wrapped in Banana Leaves

This is a time consuming project. I strongly suggest that you get together with friends or family members to make these.  I normally make the meat a couple of days before and freeze until I’m able to find the green bananas.   They need to be a deep green, and sometimes they can be difficult to find.  Once you have gotten the green bananas... its showtime!  Don't wait because they will ripen before you know it and you can no longer use them for Pasteles! 

Ingredients for the masa:

40 green bananas (they need to be completely green!!!)
3 Yellow Plantains
2 pounds yautia (taro root)
2 pounds calabaza
1 medium carton chicken stock or beef stock
3 tablespoons annatto (natural color)
Salt to taste
½ cup olive oil (using a good quality olive oil is key!!)
3 packs sazon Goya with Achiote Seasoning  
Thread to tie Pasteles
2 packs frozen banana leaves. (I use the frozen ones because it saves time, no need to wilt them…just rinse and dry them)
Parchment paper…you’ll need 3 ½ doz. Which is the same amount you’ll get from the banana leaves
The juice of 2 sour oranges

Makes 3½ doz. medium to large Pasteles
Preparing la masa:
Peel the veggies and place in cold salted water (enough water to cover them - this will keep them from turning dark until you’re ready to grate them.) After all veggies are peeled, remove from water and dry with towel. Grate all the veggies (you can also use a food processor - which will make the process faster and easier!)  In a bowl, add sazon packets to oil.  Add it to the masa ( the grated veggies) and blend by adding the broth, and sour orange juice. Add salt to taste. Set aside.

Meat filling:
I find that cutting the meat into small cubes helps the meat absorb all the marinade better and it cooks faster as well!

2 pounds beef or ground pork leg or cuts
1 box raisins (optional)
2 large red peppers
2 large onions diced
5 hajises gustoso
6 cloves garlic minced
3 tablespoons of olives
3 tablespoons of capers
1 tsp oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Juice of 1 sour orange
3 chicken cubes, knorr

Rinse meat and place in a bowl and set aside.
In a food processor, place all the seasoning ingredients with the exception of the raisins, olives, capers, chicken cubes and tomato paste. Add the seasoning mix to meat.  Add the olives and capers and let it marinate over night.

Heat a large skillet that will accommodate all the meat without crowding it.  Add 1 tbsp oil to the skillet, when oil is hot, but not burning, add the meat and saute. Once meat turns a nice golden brown, reduce heat to medium and simmer until meat is tender and falling apart.   Add the chicken cubes, tomato paste and raisins (if you chose to add them). Simmer just until cubes have dissolved. Make sure you have enough sauce as you will need some when you’re filling the Pasteles.

Now here comes the best part…assembling the Pasteles!!!!

As you can see, I place the parchment paper under the banana leaf before spreading the masa onto the banana leaf.  You'll need to brush olive oil onto the banana leaf…to do this, pour olive oil into a cup and using a BBQ brush apply the oil as if you were painting a wall.

Don’t add too much oil, you don't want your Pasteles to come out greasy.  The only reason for brushing the oil is to prevent it from sticking. 

The picture below gives you an idea of  how it looks.

Add meat filling on top of the masa. 

Sorry, I should have illustrated how to wrap the Pasteles and I totally forgot to
Take a picture of that process; it took me a couple of them before I got the hang of it.
You can always Google on how to wrap Pasteles.

You can elect to freeze them to cook at a later day,
or you can cook it straight away!
Depending on how many you want to cook, You'll have to determine the size of the pot you’ll use. 

Bring a pot of water to a boil - you'll need enough water to cover the Pasteles.  For every gallon of water add 1 tbsp of salt.  Make sure water is boiling before adding the frozen Pasteles. 

Add Pasteles and cook for 1 hour.

Serve as a side dish or as a main dish.         

Some people like to add ketchup or hot sauce…its your choice.  Enjoy! 

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