When I was a little girl my family was stationed in Georgia for several years and almost every year we would drive down to Florida to spend Christmas with my dad’s family. My dad’s side of the family is a lively group and a lot of fun. Every Christmas family and friends would pack into my Titi Denise’s house in preparation for the big Christmas Eve party. She would spend hours in the kitchen preparing food for everyone. One treat that I remember was alcapurria (Al-ka-poo-ree-ah), so warm and toasty. I use to devour them when I was a kid. Sadly though Titi Denise passed away unexpectedly about 6 years ago. In remembrance of all the great Christmas Eve parties she hosted all those years I present you with the alcapurria.
Alcapurria is basically a fritter made of green bananas and yautia (taro root) and stuffed with meat. I have also had them made with yucca (cassava root), which are extra tasty. If you happen to find yourself in PuertoRico you can find them sold in the roadside kiosks and cuchifritos. They are best enjoyed sitting on the beach drinking a nice cold malta.
Hold on this is a long post.
First you need 2 lbs of yautia (taro root) and 5 green bananas. If the only green bananas you can find are very small, you may want to double up on the bananas. I had to double up this time.
Make sure to give the yautia a good scrub, then peel with a potato peeler until you get to a clean white flesh.
Now peel your green bananas. Peeling a green banana is much like peeling a plantain. I recommend you wear some gloves though because they release a sticky sap when peeling them.
Grate the bananas and yautia using your food processor. Mine was full up to the rim when I was done.
Change the blade on the food processor and puree mixture until dough like. It may even turn into a ball in the food processor.
Add one envelope of very bright orange Sazon. It is orange because it is Sazon con Achiote and the achiote is what makes it orange.
Add 1 tsp of table salt and 1 Tbs of melted cooled shortening. I don’t have a picture because it was horribly blurry. Like my 6 year old nephew took the picture. That is what happens when your lazy and don’t want to set up the tri-pod.
Finally add 1 Tbs of olive oil.
Mix everything together until well combined. The dough should have an even orange tinge to it. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Now lets start on the filling.
Heat a large frying pan with 2 tbs of olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute sofrito and onions until tranlucent.
Add diced cooking ham and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add 1/2 lb. of ground meat to the pan.
Add the seasonings, 1/2 tps of dried oregano, 1/2 tps of Sazon with achiote, 1/2 tps of salt and 1/4 tps of black pepper.
Once the meat is nice and brown add 1/2 tsp of caper and;
8 chopped pimento stuffed olives.
Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the meat for seasoning, add more if it needs it. Don’t worry it is a wee bit on the salty side it will balance out once you assemble the alcapurria. Set filling aside.
We have now jumped into a time warp and it is now 3 hours later or the next day.
Take a piece of foil and brush it with oil. You can also use wax paper or if you want to be real hardcore, a banana leaf.
Spread a heaping 1/4 cup of dough onto the foil. I kind of padded it down like a patty.
Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center. Be careful not to put in too much filling or it won’t close properly.
Fold over one side of the foil and;
roll it and press it, kind of like your rolling a sushi roll.
When you peel away the foil, finish shaping it and pinch the ends to seal.
Gently slide the alcapurria into the hot oil and let them cook for 5 – 7 minutes, or until a deep golden brown and firm to the touch.
Remove from oil and drain on paper towel lined plate.
Eat to your hearts content but be careful it can be hot!
What I really love about these is that almost every bite is different. The first bite is always crunchy but mostly all dough, when you get to the filling it really starts to sing and when you get a little bit of olive it’s like a tangy little surprise.
If 15 is too many for you all at one time, you can assemble them wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them. Next time you want one just thaw out and toss in the fryer.
Alcapurrias (makes about 15)
- 5 very green bananas (guineitos verdes)
- 2 lbs of yautia (taro root)
- 2 tsp of salt
- 1 packet of Sazon with achiote
- 1 Tbs of melted cooled shortening
- 1 Tbs olive oil
Using a fine grater blade run the guineitos and yautia through the food processor and then run again using the standard puree/chopping blade, you may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your food processor. Process until smooth and dough like. Transfer dough to plastic bowl, add the salt, Sazon and shortening and mix until well combined. Refrigerate for 3 hours or for best results overnight.
Picadillo (meat filling)
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 2 Tbs of sofrito
- 1 ounce of jamón de cocinar (cooking ham, I have substituted Oscar Mayer smoked turkey sausage before)
- 8 pimento stuffed olives (chopped)
- 1/2 tsp of alcaparras (capers)
- 1/2 lb ground beef or pork
- 1/2 tps of dried oregano
- 1/2 tps of Sazon with achiote
- 1/2 tps of salt
- 1/4.tps of black pepper
Heat a large pan over medium high heat with 2 tbs. of olive oil, saute onions and sofrito. Stir in cooking ham, olives and capers, allow to cook for about 2 minutes. Add ground meat and remaining ingredients. Once browned stir well then cook at low heat for 15 minutes. Taste the meat for seasoning, add more salt if needed to taste.
Assembling & Frying