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Author Notes: A Puerto Rican Christmas classic, explained step by step. —The Satisfied Craver
Makes 24 pasteles
Annato Oil + Pork Filling
- 3/4 cup annato seeds
- 1 3/4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sofrito
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- 4 leaves fresh culantro (can sub cilantro)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2 pounds pork loin, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
- 1 large tomato
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 4 slices of bacon (may be substituted with diced, cooked ham)
- Place the annato seeds and vegetable oil into a pot on medium-low heat, until annato releases it’s red color, about 15 minutes. You may gently stir the oil to help the annato release it’s color. Strain and discard the annato seeds and reserve the oil.
- In another pot over medium heat, add the sofrito and 6 tbsp of the annato oil.
- With a mortar and pestle, grind together oregano, culantro, garlic and 1 1/2 tbsp of salt until the culantro and oregano leaves break down and turn into a paste and add it to the sofrito. Add pork, tomato and red cooking wine. Simmer, covered on medium low heat until the pork is fully cooked and begins to break down, for about 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, render bacon or ham in a pan until crispy. After an hour has passed add the bacon to the pork, and continue to simmer an additional 15 minutes.
Yuca Dough + Assembly
- 5 pounds ground yuca
- 2 cups water
- 1 cheese cloth
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 spool cooking twine
- 24 8”x6” banana leaves
- 24 12”x12” waterproof parchment paper
- Add about 2 cups water to ground yuca, or enough to moisten. Put ground yuca into cheese cloth and strain excess water. Repeat until all of the ground yuca is strained.
- Add milk, 1 tbsp salt, and 1 cup of the reserved annato oil. Mix by hand until the ingredients are well combined.
- Boil banana leaves in a shallow pan for about 7 minutes, or until pliable. Clean and dry the leaves with a damp wash cloth. Cut cooking twine into 24 meter-long pieces.
- To assemble pasteles, place a banana leaf in the center of a parchment paper. Spread a thin coat of annato oil over the top of the banana leaf. Place 2 tbsps of the Yuca dough in the center of the banana leaf and spread. Add a 1 1/2 tablespoons of the pork mixture over the yuca and cover with 1 tbsp of additional yuca.
- Fold the banana leaf in half, covering the dough. Roll the banana leaf in the parchment paper, folding the ends in towards the same side at the end. Tie the ‘pasteles’ together two-by-two using the cooking twine.
- Boil pasteles in salted water for an hour before eating. Extra pasteles can be frozen for up to a year.