2 pounds boneless lean pork meat (picnic shoulder or cali)
2 ounces of sofrito
1 small beef broth cube
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp oregano
1 ½ cups of water
2 ounces of extra virgin olive oil
28 small green olives (stuffed with pimientos), cut in half from
top to bottom
2 Tbsp capers Optional: garbanzos (chick peas), raisins
6 Tbsp achiote seeds (annato)
1 ½ cups of vegetable oil
3 ½ - 4 pounds of yuca (sometimes spelled yucca, and also known
1 cup of sofrito
1 small beef broth cube
2 tsp salt
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp oregano
2 ounces of water
WRAPPING: Parchment paper (at least 20 sheets - 12" x 17")
Plantain leaves (if available)
It's a good idea to break down the whole procedure into two days:
grate the 'masa' the day before you want to actually prepare the
pasteles, then do the rest the following day.
The reason is twofold:
1. You need to strain the white milky liquid from the yuca, and
the easiest way of doing this is to let the grated yuca sit in a
cheesecloth or fine strainer (over a bowl, covered) overnight, in
2. Breaking the work into two days makes it a little easier. If
you need to do it all in one day, it can be done, but you'll need
to twist the cheesecloth tightly and squeeze the milky water from
the grated yuca.
(All you'll need on Day 1 is the yuca, the achiote, and the oil
for the achiote)
Prepare the achiote oil:
In a saucepan, gently simmer the achiote seeds in the oil until
the oil turns dark red. Remove from heat. Let cool. Strain the seeds
from the oil and discard the seeds. Keep the cooled oil in a covered
jar or other container. You can leave it out, or refrigerate it.
You will use this oil in the "Masa", in the filling, and for wrapping
the pasteles. (on Day 2)
Prepare the Masa:
Peel the waxy skin off the yuca with a vegetable peeler or small
knife. The inside of the yuca should look snow white, and will be
firm to hard.
Cut the yuca into pieces that you can comfortably handle- about
the size of a stick of butter. Carefully cut each piece lengthwise
to reveal a woody stalk in the center of the yuca. It's roughly
the width of a toothpick, and runs the entire length. Cut it out
by making a 'V' cut, and discard- we want our masa to be smooth!
can try grating the yuca the old fashioned way by using a hand grater-
on the side that has the jagged holes poking out at you. I'll warn
you that it will be a little workout, though. And watch your fingers!
other option is to use a food processor with the grating blade-
feed the pieces a little at a time - any stubborn pieces that hang
around will be dealt with in the next step.
the grated yuca from the processor, switch the grating blade to
the regular cutting blade, add the yuca back to the machine and
pulse for about 2 - 3 minutes to create a moist, finely grated mixture
that is the consistency of grated parmesan cheese- just a little
the masa into a strainer that is lined with a cheesecloth. (If you
have a very fine strainer, you don't need the cheesecloth). Place
the strainer with the masa over a bowl (to let the yuca masa to
drip into), then cover with some plastic wrap, and place into the
refrigerator until the next day when you are ready to finish the
Note that we only used the first ingredient (the yuca) for the masa
on Day 1! The seasonings will be added the day you finish the pasteles.
Remove the masa from the refigerator. It will have dripped several
ounces of its liquid in the bowl- discard the liquid.
Prepare the filling:
Wash the pork meat with vinegar. Cut the meat into ½ inch cubes
(about the size of a small broth cube), trying to use only the non-fatty
meat for this dish (you don't want any surprises when you eat a
In a saucepan, use 2 ounces of the achiote oil that you prepared,
and simmer the 2 ounces of sofrito in it on low heat for 3 -5 minutes.
the rest of the filling ingredients (except the last 3 ingredients:
the olive oil, the olives and the capers) to the saucepan, bring
to a boil, lower the flame.
Simmer for approximately 1 - 1½ hours on low heat, covered. Take
care that the water does not completely evaporate- if the sauce
gets too thick, add a couple ounces of water.
meat should be cooked, but it should not fall apart when done, so
check every 15 minutes once an hour has passed. (Don't eat all the
meat like I do, 'cause you won't have any filling left!)
the meat is done, remove from heat and let cool. You should have
some gravy left with the meat, but it shouldn't be too watery. If
it looks dry, add 2 ounces of water. In either case, now add the
olive oil that was part of the last 3 ingredients (I didn't forget-
now we still have the olives and capers left, but we add those as
we wrap the pasteles).
Note: The reason you add the extra virgin olive oil
now is to keep its delicate flavor! You can always use regular olive
oil, but the extra virgin is the first pressing of the olive, and
has more flavor.
the meat is simmering, you can start seasoning the masa, but be
sure and go back to the previous step to finish up the meat!
Season the masa:
a medium saucepan, on medium heat, use 2 ounces of the achiote oil
that you prepared, and simmer the 1 cup of sofrito in it for approximately
5 minutes. It should be sizzling slowly, not just steaming a little.
the 2 ounces of water and the rest of the ingredients listed (except
the masa!). Simmer another 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
a large saucepan, bowl, or tray, add the masa that you had removed
from the regrigerator. Now add the sofrito that you just removed
from the heat, and mix well.
a half cup of the achiote oil to this, and mix again. Your masa
should now have some color, and should have a good taste! If not,
review the steps carefully- you might have missed something.
you haven't finished the last part of the meat, do so now. Otherwise,
you're ready to wrap the pasteles!
Wrap the pasteles:
twenty bundles of plantain leaves. They should be long and wide.
(You may use the parchment paper instead, or use the plantain leaf
within a sheet of parchment paper.)
If you can get the plantain leaf, do use it! It adds
a world of a difference in taste to your pasteles!
a knife, remove the central ridge of the plantain leaves to give
greater flexibility to the leaves. Divide leaves into pieces, about
12 inches square. Wash and clean leaves with a damp cloth and toast
slightly over an open flame (such as the stove burner on low). This
makes the leaf more pliable.
should still have about ½ cup of achiote oil left. Place 1 tsp of
the achiote on the leaf, or the parchment paper. Spread it out to
the size of a postcard (4" x 5"). Next, place 3 Tbsp of the masa
on the leaf (or paper) and spread it out thinly over the oil that
you just spread out.
1 ½ - 2 Tbsp of the meat filling in the center of the masa.
Place 2 olive halves on top of the masa
Place 2 capers on top of the masa
At this point, individuality kicks in: some people add a
couple of raisins, or a couple of garbanzos, or a strip of red peppers,
or a dash of hot sauce, or all of the above! It's your preference,
so add the things you personally like, so that your pasteles are
an extension of your taste!
the leaf (or paper, or leaf on top of paper) one long half over
towards the other. It won't actually get to the other end, but you
have created a top and bottom layer of plantain leaf and enclosed
the contents in it.
fold both of those back towards the end that you first started from
(making the crease at the far edge of the masa inside), while keeping
in mind that you are sort of duplicating the shape of the rectangle
of oil that you first made!
it once more, if you need to use up some paper. Then fold the right
and left ends of the leaf toward the center.
Tie the pasteles together in pairs (or alone), with a string, placing
the folded edges facing each other. They should be tied from both
sides, to prevent them from opening.
recipe yields approximately 12 -14 pasteles.
Cook the pasteles:
In Large pot, bring to a boil 5 qts of water with 1Tbsp salt. Add
12 pasteles and boil, covered, for one hour. Halfway, turn over
pasteles. After the hour, remove pasteles from the water at once,
and place in a strainer.
and enjoy. ¡Buen Provecho!