Pasteles de platano puertorriquenos: Receta de Pasteles de Masa (Yautia y Guineo)

Pasteles de Masa — A Puerto Rican Christmas Tradition

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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.

What are Pasteles?

If you’re not familiar with pasteles they can be a little hard to describe. Some people 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), green plantain, green banana, and sometimes kabocha pumpkin. I like to make my masa using all of these.

Tips for Making Pasteles

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 because I am in Tennessee and not Puerto Rico, it is difficult to find someone who makes and sells pasteles, I decided to make my own. Besides, it’s 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 around a large pot of masa 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.
  • Embrace the food processor. Before grating yautia and plantains had to be done by hand. Today we have food processors with shredding blades. 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.

Masa vs Yuca

There are two versions of pasteles, pasteles de masa which is made with a mixture of green plantains, green bananas, kabocha pumpkin and yautia (malanga), and the other pasteles de yuca is made with a seasoned mixture of yuca root. They are both wrapped in banana leaves and boiled in water for 45 minutes.

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.

How to Assemble Pasteles

It 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 oil 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

How to Cook Frozen Pasteles

One of the best things about pasteles is cleaning out the freezer in June and finding a forgotten bundle in the back of the freezer. There is no need to defrost pasteles before cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and carefully add the frozen pasteles to the boiling water. Simmer covered for an hour, until tender.

You can also cook them frozen in an Instant Pot with at high pressure for 30 minutes with 1 cup of water, quickly releasing the pressure. 

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.

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!

Need more Puerto Rican recipes? Check out my full collection of Puerto Rican recipes!

more puerto rican christmas recipes
  • roasted pernil
  • pavochon
  • arroz con gandules
  • flan de queso
  • arroz con dulce

Ingredients

Filling

  • 2 lbs cubed pork
  • 1/4 cup recaito
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 envelope Sazon sin achiote
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chopped Spanish olives with pimentos
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 14. 5 oz can of garbanzos

Masa

  • 2 plantains, peeled*
  • 3 green bananas, peeled*
  • 1 1/2 lbs of yautia (taro root), peeled
  • 1/2 lb kabocha pumpkin, peeled
  • 1/2 cup recaito
  • 2 envelopes Sazon con culantro & achiote
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 beef bouillon cube

Achiote Oil

  • 6 tablespoons achiote seeds (annatto)
  • 2 cups of vegetable oil

Assembly

  • 1 small jar of pimentos
  • 12 — 14 oz banana leaves
  • pasteles paper or parchment paper
  • butchers twine

Instructions

DAY 1

Filling

  1. Combine all filling ingredients in a pressure cooker. Set to cook for 30 minutes. Let it come back to pressure naturally without releasing it.
  2. Uncover and set to brown/simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Masa

  1. Using the fine shredder blade on your food processor or a manual grater, grate the plantain, green bananas, yautia, and pumpkin. Depending on the size of your food processor you may have to work in batches.
  2. Change out the shredder blade for the chopping blade. Working in batches process the shredded vegetables until the fine and pasty.
  3. Add remaining masa ingredients and mix until well combined. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Achiote Oil

  1. Heat 1 1/2 — 2 cups of vegetable oil, add 6 tbs of annatto seeds to the oil. Allow the seeds to simmer until the oil reaches a bright red color.
  2. Strain the seeds from the oil and discard the seeds. Allow the oil to cool and store in a sealed container until ready to use.

DAY 2

Prep Banana Leaves

  1. Remove the ridge from the leaves. Cut the banana leaves into 12 x 12-inch squares and wash the banana leaves under warm running water.
  2. Working in batches microwave the banana leaves for 1.5 to 2 minutes, this helps make the leaf more flexible.

Assembly *see video above*

  1. Set up assembly station with masa mixture, filling, achiote oil, banana leaves, paper for pastels, and butchers twine.
  2. Stack the pastels paper and banana leaves, alternating them starting with the pastel paper. Spread 1 tsp of achiote oil on the banana leaf. Scoop 1/2 cup of the masa mixture onto the banana leave and spread out into a rectangle.
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of filling down the center and top with pimentos if you like. Using the banana leaf fold the masa over the filling.
  4. Bring the leaf ends together. Fold over twice to create a tight seal. Tuck the ends under, if the banana leaf splits a little don’t stress we are going to fold it again in the paper. Do the same wrap and fold with the paper. If you use only pastel paper I recommend double wrapping.
  5. Tie the pastel with butchers twine like a present. At this point, you can boil them right away, or you can freeze them until ready to use. When ready to cook bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop in pasteles and boil for 45 minutes for fresh and 1 hour for frozen. They can also be cooked in the pressure cooker for 30 minutes with 1 cup of water.
  6. Using a pair of tongs pick the pastel out of the water by the string and place on a paper towel. Cut the string and gently unwrap. Enjoy!

Notes

How to peel a plantain or green banana

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.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

  • Cuisinart FP-8SV Elemental 8-Cup Food Processor, Silver

  • SFL Annatto/Achiote Seeds, Whole — 8 Ounces — Kosher

  • Goya Sazon Con Culantro Y Achiote, 3. 5 oz

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 311Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 325mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 12g

One More Thing!

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New episodes released every Wednesday!

In the meantime follow us on Instagram @my.plate.is.always.full  or visit our website! 

Categories: Dinner Tags: puerto rican

xoxo

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Pasteles De Masa (Puerto Rican Pasteles)

For Puerto Ricans, Christmas isn’t Christmas unless there are pasteles de masa on the table. These lovely banana-leaf wrapped treats are one of 3 must-have dishes on the menu during the holiday season, along with arroz con gandules and pernil.

What Are Pasteles De Masa?

Pasteles are admittedly hard to describe. I like to call them Puerto Rican hot pockets (lol), except they’re not. Made with a tropical root vegetable dough that’s filled with a savory meat stew, and wrapped in green banana leaves, pasteles are often compared to tamales, but their similarities end with the fact that they’re wrapped in a leaf.

Pasteles are a delicious traditional dish served in Puerto Rican homes during Christmas. Each family has their own secret recipe, but the dough for the pasteles is typically made with a combination of root vegetables, like yuca (cassava), yautia (taro), calabaza (tropical pumpkin) and plantain (plátanos) that is peeled and processed into a paste. The typical filling is a savory stewed pork or chicken, known as a guiso. To hold their shape, pasteles are wrapped in green banana leaves, tied into parchment paper bundles and boiled until the masa is cooked through.

How To Make The Masa For Puerto Rican Pasteles?

If you’re lucky enough like me to live near an ethnic/Latino supermarket, you’ll be able to find grated masa for pasteles in the freezer section. This saves lots of time and energy, as taro & cassava are tough root vegetables that require several steps to prepare for this dish. If you’re unable to find it, that’s ok! You’ll just have to make it the traditional way. That involves processing the peeled root vegetables into a paste and seasoning it.

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A post shared by Jannese | Easy Latin Recipes (@delishdlites)

How To Assemble Puerto Rican Pasteles De Masa

You’ll need parchment paper, banana leaves, and butcher’s twine.

Cut your banana leaves into about 8-9 inches in length. Remove the hard rib located on one side of the leaf.

Cut your parchment paper into 12 inch squares.

To build the pasteles, smear about 1 tablespoon of liquid from the stewed meat onto the banana leaf.

Then, spread 1/2 cup of masa into the middle of the banana leaf.   Place 1/4 cup of filling into the center of the masa, making sure to drain any excess liquid.

How To Wrap Puerto Rican Pasteles

1. Fold the top of the parchment over towards you, so that the ends meet.
2. Using your hand, tuck the filling into the center.
3. Make a one inch fold at the bottom of the parchment, then make another.
4. Rotate to bring the folded seam to the center.
5. Tuck the filling in at one end.
6. Fold the end under.
7. Tuck again on the other side.
8. Fold the other side under.

Stack two pasteles together, with the tucked ends facing inwards.

Tie the pasteles de masa together using butchers twine.

You’re now ready to store or cook the pasteles de masa.

How To Cook Pasteles

If storing, place them in a gallon sized freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.  If cooking them, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then boil for 45 minutes to an hour.  If you’re cooking them from a frozen state, cook for 60-90 minutes.

Drain them, cut the string, and unwrap from the banana leaf to enjoy. You can top these with ketchup or hot sauce!

Puerto Rican Pasteles De Masa

A classic Puerto Rican holiday dish, this authentic recipe features the classic masa mixture that results in super tender pasteles.

Prep Time 3 hours

Cook Time 1 hour

Total Time 4 hours

Servings 12

Author Delish D’Lites

The Meat
  • 2 1/2
    pounds
    boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless pork (picnic shoulder or Boston butt)
    you can substitute chickpeas for a vegetarian version
  • 1
    teaspoon
    adobo seasoning
  • 2
    packets sazon seasoning with culantro y achiote
  • 2
    teaspoons
    garlic powder
  • 1
    teaspoon
    dried oregano leaves
  • 2 1/2
    cups
    low sodium chicken broth
  • 1
    chicken bouillon cube
  • 3
    dried bay leaves
  • 1/4
    cup
    pimento stuffed olives
  • 1
    tablespoon
    olive oil
  • 1/4
    cup
    sofrito
  • 1
    tablespoon
    tomate paste
The Masa
  • 2
    pounds
    yautia blanca (taro root), peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1
    pound
    yuca root (cassava), peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1
    pound
    tropical pumpkin, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 1/2
    pound
    green (unripe) bananas, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
    Or substitute green plantains if unavailable.
  • 2
    tablespoons
    canola oil
  • 2
    packets
    Sazon seasoning with culantro and achiote
  • 1
    package
    frozen banana leaves
    hojas de platano, defrosted
  • 12
    sheets
    Parchment paper
    for wrapping
  • Butchers twine
    for tying
To Make The Filling
  1. Cube up the chicken or pork into small cubes, about 1-2 inches in size. Season the meat with adobo, sazon, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil over the meat, then stir up the mixture to get everything well coated with the spices.

  2. Add the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil to a sauce pan, and heat to medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add in the sofrito and stir for 30 seconds. Add the meat, bay leaves and tomato paste. Stir the mixture to combine. Add in the olives, chicken bouillon cube and chicken broth. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour. Cool in the refrigerator before filling the pasteles.

To Make The Masa
  1. Using the fine shredder blade on your food processor or a manual grater, grate the plantain, green bananas, yautia, and pumpkin. Depending on the size of your food processor you may have to work in batches. Change out the shredder blade for the chopping blade. Working in batches process the shredded vegetables until they form a finely-grained paste. Add remaining masa ingredients and mix until well combined. Mix the sazon oil into the masa thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

To Assemble The Pasteles
  1. Cut the banana leaves into about 8-9 inches in length. Remove the hard rib located on one side of the leaf.

  2. Cut the parchment paper into 12 inch squares.

  3. To build the pasteles, smear about 1 tablespoon of liquid from the stewed meat onto the banana leaf.

  4. Then, spread 1/2 cup of masa into the middle of the banana leaf. Place 1/4 cup of filling into the center of the masa, making sure to drain any excess liquid.

  5. Fold into parcels. Stack two pasteles together, with the tucked ends facing inwards. Tie the pasteles together using butchers twine.

  6. If storing, place them in a gallon sized freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.

  7. If cooking them, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then boil for 45 minutes to an hour. If you’re cooking them from a frozen state, cook for 75-90 minutes.

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