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Last week, I started sharing recipes that are great for the Christmas holidays. If you haven't yet, go and check out last week's post, Coquito (Coconut Eggnog). Once you try it, it will get you excited for the holidays. I promise.
Now, on to today's recipe!
Pasteles en Hoja - the ultimate only-available-during-Christmas-time food.
OK, I exaggerate a bit. But it sure seems that way.
Pasteles en Hoja is a plantain and root vegetables masa (dough) filled with meat and made into a pocket using plantain leaves. It is similar to Mexican Tamales in method, but uses different ingredients. The masa (dough) for the pasteles is made with green plantains and other starchy root vegetables, such as white yautia. It's usually filled with any meat you choose, the most popular being ground beef, chicken and pork (carnitas).
Although, pasteles can be made anytime, it is mainly prepared during Christmas time. Why you ask? I have absolutely no idea. I imagine it's because it is considered a very time consuming dish, therefore, it's only made during special occasions.
Making pasteles can be very time consuming, mostly because most people make it in really big batches to share with a lot of people. However, if you make them to share as an appetizer during your holiday dinner, a single batch of 10-12 pasteles cut in half or even in three pieces will go a long way and won't take you quite as long as if you were making a whole bunch.
For this recipe, I used a mix of green plantains, white yautia and auyama (kabocha squash) for the masa and ground beef (picadillo) for the filling. I also made a few with shredded chicken.
This is my second year in a row making these pasteles and have quickly become a must have. Prior to that, we had always bought them already made and I must say that mine turned out way better than all the others I had previously tried.
Unlike popular believe, the pasteles en hoja are really easy to make. Just follow the recipe below and surprise your family with these delicious homemade pasteles.
Once cooked, I like to put mayo and ketchup on mine before eating. My husband adds hot sauce to his. But you can dress it however you like.
Pasteles en Hoja (Dominican Style Tamales)
- 2 large green plantains
- 1 pound white yautia
- 1 pound auyama (kabocka squash)
- 1 teaspoon of adobo seasoning
- 2 tablespoons sofrito mix (cilantro, garlic, onion, bell peppers)
- ½ cup of vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon of annatto/achiote seeds
- plantain leaves (sold frozen at the grocery store)
- parchment paper
- Kitchen Twine (Cooking String)
- Meat of your choice , cooked
- In a small sauce pan, warm vegetable oil and annatto/achiote seeds for about 3-4 minutes to infuse oil with color and flavor. Set aside and let cool.
- Peel vegetables. Using the smallest side of a grater, grate all vegetables into a large bowl.
- Add adobo seasoning, sofrito and 2 tablespoons of the annatto/achiote infused oil. Mix well.
- Cut parchment paper into 10 X 10 inch pieces. Cut plantain leaves into 6 X 6 inch pieces approximately.
- Place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom and a piece of plantain leaf on top.
- In the center of the piece of plantain leaf, spread 1 teaspoon of the annatto/achiote infused oil. Then, place about 3 tablespoons of the masa and top with about 1 and ½ tablespoons of meat filling.
- Fold the bottom side of the parchment parper up to fold the mixture and cover the meat. Continue to roll vertically making the pocket tight. Fold the sides to completely close up the ends pocket. Using cooking string, tightly secure the pocket.
- In a large pot of water, boil pockets for 30-45 minutes.
- Carefully, unwrap and serve warm.
- Once cooked, I like to put mayo and ketchup on mine before eating. My husband adds hot sauce to his. But you can dress it however you like.
- Roll the tamales tightly so that the filling is contained.
- Don't spread the masa all the way to the edges. You want to leave some room to help with the folding and the masa will expand when cooked.
- Pasteles can be made ahead and placed in the freezer for about 4 weeks. When ready to cook, place them in a pot to boil while still frozen for about 1 hour.