(All you'll need on Day 1 is the yucca, the achiote, and the oil for the
Achiote oil: In a saucepan, gently simmer achiote seeds in oil until oil
turns dark red. Remove from heat. Let cool. Strain seeds from
oil and discard seeds. Keep cooled oil in a covered jar or
other container. You can leave it out, or refrigerate it. You will use
this oil in the "Masa", in the filling, and for wrapping the pasteles.
(on Day 2)
Masa: Peel waxy skin off yucca with a vegetable peeler or small knife.
The inside should look snow white, and be firm to
hard. Cut into pieces about the
size of a stick of butter. Cut each piece lengthwise to
reveal a woody stalk in center, roughly the width
of a toothpick. Cut it out by making a 'V'
cut, and discard.
Using a hand
grater is a workout and hard on
fingers! Use a food processor with the grating blade. Feed pieces a few at a time. Remove grated yucca from processor, switch from grating blade to
regular cutting blade, return yucca to the machine and pulse
for about 2 - 3 minutes to create a moist, finely grated mixture that
is the consistency of grated parmesan cheese- just a little wetter. Place into a strainer lined with a cheesecloth. (If
you have a very fine strainer, you don't need cheesecloth). Place
strainer over a bowl to let yucca drip. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in
refrigerator until next day. Note that we only used first ingredient (the yucca) for the masa on
Remove the masa from the refigerator. It will have dripped several
ounces of its liquid in the bowl- discard the liquid.
Filling: Wash pork with vinegar. Cut meat into ½ inch cubes (about
the size of a small broth cube), trying to use only the non-fatty meat
for this dish (you don't want any surprises when you eat a pastel !)
In a saucepan, use 2 ounces of the achiote oil that you prepared, and
simmer the 2 ounces of sofrito in it on low heat for 3 -5 minutes. Add remaining filling ingredients except last 3 ingredients:
olive oil, olives and capers to saucepan, bring to a
boil, lower flame. Simmer for approximately 1 - 1½ hours on low heat, covered. Do not let water evaporate- if sauce gets too
thick, add a couple ounces of water. The meat should be cooked, but it should not fall apart when done, so
check every 15 minutes once an hour has passed.
When meat is done, remove from heat and let cool. You should have
some gravy left with the meat, but it shouldn't be too watery. If it
looks dry, add 2 ounces water. Now add olive oil.
Adding now keeps its
delicate flavor! You can always use regular olive oil, but extra
virgin has more flavor.
While the meat is simmering, you can start seasoning the masa, but be
sure and go back to the previous step to finish up the meat!
Season masa: In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, use 2 ounces of prepared achiote oil, and simmer 1 cup of sofrito in it for
approximately 5 minutes. It should be sizzling slowly, not just
steaming a little. Add 2 ounces of water and the rest of the ingredients listed
(except the masa!). Simmer another 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
In a large saucepan, bowl, or tray, add the masa that you had removed
from the regrigerator. Now add the sofrito that you just removed from
the heat, and mix well. Add a half cup of the achiote oil to this, and mix again. Your masa
should now have some color, and should have a good taste!
Wrap pasteles: Use twenty bundles of plantain leaves. They should be long and wide.
(You may use the parchment paper instead, or use the plantain leaf
within a sheet of parchment paper.) If you can get the plantain leaf, do use it! It adds a world of a
difference in taste to your pasteles!
With a knife, remove the central ridge of the plantain leaves to give
greater flexibility to the leaves. Divide leaves into pieces, about 12
inches square. Wash and clean leaves with a damp cloth and toast
slightly over an open flame (stove burner on low). This
makes the leaf more pliable.
You should still have about ½ cup of achiote oil left. Place 1 tsp of
the achiote on the leaf, or the parchment paper. Spread it out to the
size of a postcard (4" x 5"). Next, place 3 Tbsp of the masa on the
leaf (or paper) and spread it out thinly over the oil that you just
Place 1 ½ - 2 Tbsp of the meat filling in the center of the masa.
Place 2 olive halves on top of the masa.
Place 2 capers on top of the masa. Some people add a couple
of raisins, or a couple of garbanzos, or a strip of red peppers, or a
dash of hot sauce, or all of the above! It's your preference.
Fold leaf (or paper, or leaf on top of paper) one long half over
towards other. It won't actually get to the other end, but you have
created a top and bottom layer of plantain leaf and enclosed the
contents in it. Now fold both of those back towards the end that you first started from
(making the crease at the far edge of the masa inside), while keeping
in mind that you are sort of duplicating the shape of the rectangle of
oil that you first made! Fold it once more, if you need to use up some paper. Then fold the
right and left ends of the leaf toward the center.
Tie the pasteles together in pairs (or alone), with a string, placing
the folded edges facing each other. They should be tied from both
sides, to prevent them from opening.
Cook pasteles: In large pot, bring to a boil 5 qts of water with 1 Tbsp salt. Add 12
pasteles and boil, covered, for one hour. Halfway, turn over pasteles.
After the hour, remove pasteles from the water at once, and place in a
This recipe yields approximately 12 -14 pasteles.
Contributor: Joe Kirkpatrick