Pasteles de Masa | There are three things you must have on the table for a proper Puerto Rican Christmas pernil, arroz con gandules, and pasteles! This post is all about pasteles, the most magical treat wrapped in a banana leaf.
If you’re not familiar with pasteles they can be a little hard to describe. Some people with compare them to tamales except that they are nothing like tamales except that they are labor intensive and wrapped. The masa of pasteles can be a mixture of yautia (taro root), plantain, green banana, and sometimes kabocha pumpkin. I like to make my masa using all of these.
I cannot tell a lie; pasteles are a project so a lot of times people will buy them by the dozen from someone who makes them. However being in it is difficult to find someone who makes and sells pasteles, I decided to make my own. Besides its more fun to make them yourself.
If you decided to take on this endeavor, it is best if done with some helping hands. It’s a tradition for the family to gather in the kitchen and make a pasteles assembly line. In order to make it easier it is best if the process is divided over 2 or 3 days. Trust me trying to make pasteles from start to finish all in one day is exhausting.
There are two versions of pasteles, pasteles de masa which is made with a mixture of plantain, green banana, kabocha pumpkin and yautia (malanga), and the other pasteles de yuca is made with a seasoned mixture of yuca root.
Thankfully making pasteles has become easier with the advances in modern technology. Gone are the times of hand grating yautia and plantains. Today we have food processors with shredding blades and the pressure cooker that cooks in half the time. Unfortunately, the process of peeling yautia, plantains, and green bananas are still up to us. If you have never peeled a plantain or green banana check out this tutorial on How to Peel a Plantain.
Gathering around the table with family assembling pasteles is a bonding Christmas tradition. It’s a gathering of generations, with the older generation passing down culinary traditions to the younger. And, these traditions are some of the most important to pass on.
Assemble PastelesIt is best to divide this project up over 2 days. You can do this one of two ways. You can choose to make the yuca and the achiote on day one and the filling and assembly on day two or you can do everything on day one and assembly on day two. I prefer the second option, but whatever makes you happy. pasteles
I always joked that pasteles are the gift you unwrap on Christmas Eve. The moment I pull a pastel from the water and start to unwrap it my mouth begins to water. But, let’s be honest, they aren’t the most attractive dish. And, they were a bear to photograph.
But, don’t let the appearance fool you they are tender, savory, and complex in flavor. I dance in my chair every time a pastel lands on my plate. I say with all the confidence in the world one taste of this recipe and your knees will buckle.
I know making pasteles can be hard work but Christmas only happens once a year. The time with family and the passing down of tradition is worth it all. The best part of pasteles is the one that gets lost at the back of the freezer and you find it months later when you’re cleaning out the freezer. It’s like Christmas all over again!
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DAY 1 Filling Masa Achiote Oil DAY 2 Prep Banana Leaves Assembly *see video above* Recaito is a very important part of seasoning the masa. Although it can be bought in many Latin and Asian grocery stores in the frozen section homemade is best. It can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use. Many of the ingredients including the banana leaves can be found at your local Latin or Asian grocery store. As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Prep Banana Leaves
Assembly *see video above*
Recaito is a very important part of seasoning the masa. Although it can be bought in many Latin and Asian grocery stores in the frozen section homemade is best. It can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use.
Many of the ingredients including the banana leaves can be found at your local Latin or Asian grocery store.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.