One of my favorite things about the holidays is the food we get to eat. I remember waiting for the packages getting to NY from Puerto Rico. they would have tembleque (coconut pudding), pasteles, arroz con dulce (rice pudding) and mangoes. I never really like pasteles but always ate them because I knew it was a once a year thing. My mom always told me they were too laborious to make and took too long but I always wanted to learn how to make them. So i took to my library of typical Puerto Rican cookbooks and as usual read all of the recipes and bought the supplies.
10 green bananas (and yes BANANAS, I thought plantains but no)
1/4 yautia (root vegetable with a nutty earth flavor)
1 Green plantain
1 Package banana leaves (mine cost about $1.99 at fine fare in Harlem and i had plenty left over)
Pernil cooked (for the sake of small batches I used 2 pork chops)
1 can garbanzos (chick peas in water, drained)
1 small pepper diced
1 small spanish onion diced
3 tablespoons of green olives
1c olive oil
To prepare for the masa peel the bananas, plantain and yautia. I suggest peeling the bananas and plantain under running cold water. The bananas will stain your hands with a black ink. The yautia is bumpy but easily peeled with a veggie peeler. Cube them all to about the same size.
Masa (literally “mass” this is a heavy puree that surrounds the meat filling)
In your food processor blend the bananas, plantain and yautia. Do this in small batches so the paste is consistent. The mixture will be a bit dry so drizzle in olive oil when necessary but this whole 1c has to give to grease the leaves as well. While mixing also season it with sazon, salt, pepper and some adobo. You can also put the juice from the cooked meat to add flavor as well and if you do that don’t put olive oil. One or the other. Once this is all mixed it will have a light yellow color. Put in a bowl and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top and press plastic wrap down on to it. this prevents a skin from forming in the fridge. let this rest 1 hour while you prepare the meat or overnight.
Fry the pork chops and dice them. I usually season my pork chops with sofrito a few days before so it gets into the meat. Once fried cube the onions and pepper and put it all back in the saucepan. Add garbanzos and sliced olives (be sure to get the pitted ones). once this is cooked drain any excess fluid.
Rinse the banana leaves. e sure to trim off the center vein if you fail to do this-as I did for a few- the leaf will break when you wrap the pastel. Cut the leaves into squares about 8″x8″.
Take a leaf and drizzle olive oil and spread the masa. I used the back of a spoon to make this easier and evenly spread the masa. take a few table spoons of the meat and put in the center.
Fold the top and bottom together, the left and right together. The pastel should be rolled tight but not too tight- it will expand when cooked. then tie with cooking twine. There are many different sites that give directions on how to do this. for the sake of not being sued i wont post it here
Once you are done wrapping boil in salted water for about 30 minutes and you are ready to eat.
I like mine with ketchup, Buen Provecho!