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I've heard so much about these things, and how difficult they are to make, etc.

Why?

And what do they taste like? Are they any good?

Where can one get decent versions of them? I understand there are different versions depending on the country of origin. (I also understand that the original version comes from Puerto Rico...altho that may not be true.)

Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? :blink:

SA

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:huh: I must be missing something....

To me, pasteles just means "cakes" in Spanish.

So, as you'd expect, there are thousands of different kinds - everything from difficult to blazingly easy.

A favorite is pastel de tres leches or "Three Milks Cake."

Is there something else that pasteles means??? :blink:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Pasteles are a kind of Puerto Rican tamale. They are a filling of pork, tomato, chile, olive, chick peas surrounded by a seasoned mash of green banana, plantain and taro. I used to find them both ready-to-eat and frozen to-go at a coffee shop on the east side of 6th Ave near 14th Street. I don't remember the name and have tossed my notes. I see that the card from Jimmy's Lechonera (1875 Lexington; tel: 369-9613) lists them as specialties.

There is a recipe in Dora Romano's "Rice and Beans and Tasty Things: a Puerto Rican Cookbook" ISBN 0-9633449-1-9.

eGullet member #80.

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Well, now I'm all excited. Let's hope somebody shows up here with a recipe.

And if not, I'm definitely going to track one down somewhere.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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While the English, Americans and Australians may all speak the same language with the same vocabulary :biggrin: the latin countries do not share a common vocabulary, at least not to the same extent. :laugh:

Puerto Rican pasteles are made from a combination of finely grated green plantain (or very green bananas) and two kinds of yautia, as far as I know. There's usually a little filling, or more than a little filling depending on who's making them and whether they're made for family or for sale. The filling is some stewed meat (pork), chickpeas and the usual seasonings found in much of Puerto Rican cooking. I've known people to add chopped hard boiled egg and raisins. They're formed into a rectangle and folded into a banana leaf, although I've seen them made in parchment paper which may not lend that added taste. They are, I suppose, an acquired taste. I found them almost revolting the first time I had them, but eventually they become addictive. There's a gummy unctuousness that comes from the yautia that's a turn off to some and there's a strange oiliness for those unused to it.

They are not nearly as hard to make as they used to be before food processors and everything had to be ground by hand. I think you can get them at times at Old San Juan, a Puerto Rican restaurant on Ninth Avenue or Casa Adela, a sister restaurant. I've also run across them at cuchifrito places, but my prejudice is that the best ones are non commercial. It's always a big deal when I've had them in Puerto Rico and people seem to talk about their sources as if they were buying illegal drugs.

Carmen Valldejuli in her classic volume of Puerto Rican cooking Cocina Criolla, uses white yautia, yellow yautia, green bananas and achiote oil. From the Hecho en Puerto Rico site, this looks like the English translation of Valldejuli's recipe. From the links on this page, it appears as if this site may have more to offer in learning about Puerto Rican cusine. There's a link to Mofongo, but no recipe for Asopao. Here's another recipe that Esilda says is blasphemous as it uses potatoes, yuca and calabaza as well as both green plantains and bananas as well as one kind of yautia, but it has some good photos.

I suppose there's a family resemblance to Mexican tamales which are made from corn meal.

Robert Buxbaum

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  • 3 years later...

I am bumping this topic up forum again, was wondering if anyone (since '03) has tried to make these?

My father in law is from Puerto Rico, has a pastele(s) machine, and would like me to try this.

His original supplier (a women who was born and raised in P.R.) lived in FL., where she made freezer(s) full of these bundles. Due to illness, she is not able to make these anymore, so I thought I would try to learn this technique.

Pasteles are so GOOD, they are hard to describe. :biggrin:

I can take this on, as it has nothing to do with rabbit! :wacko:

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Pastelles are a traditional item usually made at Xmas time here in Trinidad.

The basic construction is a seasoned filling of minced beef, pork or chicken

enclosed in cornmeal and then wrapped in banana/fig leaves and then boiled/steamed.

The leaves impart a slight flavour.

Making them requires a little technique and a pastelle press which flattens the balls of cornmeal evenly so that the filling can be wrapped.

See below for a typical Trinidad pastelle recipe

Pastelle recipe

Edited by lennyk (log)
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I am bumping this topic up forum again, was wondering if anyone (since '03) has tried to make these?

My father in law is from Puerto Rico, has a pastele(s) machine, and would like me to try this.

His original supplier (a women who was born and raised in P.R.) lived in FL., where she made freezer(s) full of these bundles. Due to illness, she is not able to make these anymore, so I thought I would try to learn this technique.

Pasteles are so GOOD, they are hard to describe. :biggrin:

I wish I had a recipe to give you, but like every PR cook I know, recipes do not exist. It's all about taste, smell and color. Maybe this year I can take photos or video tape it. It really is a sight to behold and it's a true labor of love because it takes all day.

I make pasteles every Friday/Saturday before Thanksgiving with my partner and her family. We usually make about 250 so they last until Christmas. (They never do, once the word is out...) The family has a very old fashioned machine that is actually a refrigerator motor attached that has a homemade grating blade that is semi attached to a large plastic 5 gallon container.

Her family uses green bananas (not plantains) unripened yellow bananas.

These bananas ae a pain to peel. They do not peel liek bananas. They peel like plantains. You have to cut off the ends, make slits thru the peel making sure to not slit the banana. If you slit the banana meat the are impossible to get off the peel. Then thy have to sit in warm salted water for a few minutes to make them easier to peel.

A hughe box of these are grated in the machine and then mixed with achiote oil, spices and tons of homemade sofrito. This is the masa or base for the pastele.

In the meantime 5-8 pork loins have been cut into tiny bite size pieces and cooked in sofrito until tender. This almost looks like asapoa or caldo. Any leftover caldo is saved for Thanksgiving's arroz con gandules.

While others are preparing the meat and masa someone else is cutting red peppers into long strips and opening jars of manzanilla olives to get ready for the assembly line.

Someone else is cutting parchment paper and butcher string.

And someone else is washing, drying and cutting banana leaves.

Once all the ingrediants are ready the assembly begins.

First is a section of parchment paper is laid on the table. Next a spoonful of grease skimmed from the top of the meat and placed on the paper. The banana leaf is next and a little more grease. The grease keeps the pastele from sticking to the paper and leaf. the leaf imparts flavor.

Next a big cooking spponful of the masa, than some meat, than 1 olive and 1 pimento. The whole thing is carefully wrapped and it waits for it's partner to be tied. When 2 pasteles are ready they are placed flap folds against each other and tied very carefully. Voila 2 patsales down 248 to go.

They are boiled for 1 hour in salted water.

They are absolutely delicious and sometimes an acquired taste, but I have yet to meat anyone who does not instantly love them.

Sometimes we will make variations and add pana (breadfruit) yautia or yucca or potato.

It's hard, hard work. You smell like pasteles all day and the next day (only someone who has made them will understand this). Your clothes are stained orange from the achoite as are your hands. The house is a wreck and the linoleum might stain if you don't watch the achoite oil. Making the achoite oil is my favorite part. But really it's all my favorite becuase we are all together having fun. Having a beer or 2, listening to salsa and learning how to carry on tradition from a 70 year old PR woman.

I know what you mean about freezers full. These pasteles just seem to get better the longer they stay. All the flavors seem to mingle.

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I brought some pasteles home with me two xmas ago and offered one to my bf. Upon opening it he exclaimed "This looks like haggis". I nearly died laughing. This past xmas, at the dinner table, I told my family what he said and you would have thought that this was the gravest offense they have ever heard. LOL.

They do look kinda gross but are oh so good. :smile:

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  • 1 month later...
...It's hard, hard work.  You smell like pasteles all day and the next day (only someone who has made them will understand this).  Your clothes are stained orange from the achoite as are your hands. The house is a wreck and the linoleum might stain if you don't watch the achoite oil.  Making the achoite oil is my favorite part.  But really it's all my favorite becuase we are all together having fun.  Having a beer or 2, listening to salsa and learning how to carry on tradition from a 70 year old PR woman.

I know what you mean about freezers full.  These pasteles just seem to get better the longer they stay.  All the flavors seem to mingle.

I'm laying here on my bed in the dead of summer enjoying the last of the pasteles I bought from a co-worker's mom last December. YUMMY!

I love pasteles! I prefer them made with pork (vs. other variations like chicken) and the masa tastes better to me when it's made with yautia (taro root) instead of yuca (cassava).

My mother also loves pasteles. Her father was from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, but unfortunately due to a strained relationship with him, she (and her siblings) didn't learn much about Puerto Rican cooking. And they certainly never participated in any of the all-day pasteles marathon sessions. I wish she had since I would have enjoyed being a part of that.

As such, I'm limited to buying a dozen or two from my co-worker's mom during the Christmas season. Some people definitely make them better than others... some add raisins (which I could do without), others add calabaza (a type of squash similar to our pumpkin - which I like). I have to put in my bid early with my co-worker's mom since hers are particularly good and they go fast. :laugh:

I don't think I'd undertake making pasteles by myself. It's just way too daunting, especially since I've never been a part of a "pasteles making group." I feel like I'd have to "apprentice" for a few years before striking out to make them on my own.

Plus my mom and I are the only ones who like them (in our immediate family). They are an acquired taste - usually people either love them or hate them. But when you spend all of that time making them, it's worth it to make over 100 or so. Who would eat all of those pasteles? :laugh:

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If you live in NYC & are interested in tuning in, Daisy Martinez, host of the cooking show "Daisy Cooks" is featuring pasteles. It's airing on the Public Broadcasting Station channel 13 (WNET) on Sunday, July 23, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.

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In Indonesia, Pastel is a half moon form of pastry crust pie filled with a sweet mixture of chicken, potato, peas and spices, or glass noodles and julienned carrots, and then deep fried.

In England the famous Cornish Pastie is an identically shaped pastry crust pie, but slightly larger, traditionally filled with mashed potato, diced carrot, peas and minced meats at one end and a sweet preserve of fruit at the other, they were originally eaten by Cornish tin miners centuries ago, who because of their dirty working conditions held the Pastie to eat by the curled up crust along the rounded edge of the pie, after eating the pastie the soiled crust would be discarded.

I wonder how many other variations there are around the world of this dish?

Regards,

Richard

"Don't be shy, just give it a try!"

Nungkysman: Food for the Body and the Soul.

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In England the famous Cornish Pastie is an identically shaped pastry crust pie, but slightly larger, traditionally filled with mashed potato, diced carrot, peas and minced meats at one end and a sweet preserve of fruit at the other, they were originally eaten by Cornish tin miners centuries ago, who because of their dirty working conditions held the Pastie to eat by the curled up crust along the rounded edge of the pie, after eating the pastie the soiled crust would be discarded.

Regards,

Richard

The Great Cornish Pasty Debate is nicely summarised in Wikipedia: diced steak, potato, onion, swede (rutabaga). Start with everything raw. No pudding end in living memory I'm afraid.

They taste fantastically of themselves, but are unlikely to qualify as the spiritual cousins of pastels.

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In England the famous Cornish Pastie is an identically shaped pastry crust pie, but slightly larger, traditionally filled with mashed potato, diced carrot, peas and minced meats at one end and a sweet preserve of fruit at the other, they were originally eaten by Cornish tin miners centuries ago, who because of their dirty working conditions held the Pastie to eat by the curled up crust along the rounded edge of the pie, after eating the pastie the soiled crust would be discarded.

Regards,

Richard

The Great Cornish Pasty Debate is nicely summarised in Wikipedia: diced steak, potato, onion, swede (rutabaga). Start with everything raw. No pudding end in living memory I'm afraid.

They taste fantastically of themselves, but are unlikely to qualify as the spiritual cousins of pastels.

I'm inclined to agree. Puerto Rican pasteles are more akin to the Mexican tamale than a Cornish pasty.

I think the Cornish pasty is more akin to an empanada or a Jamaican beef patty. It seems that a lot of cultures around the world have some variation on the "meat/potato/veggies/spices filling enclosed in a dough" type food. Pierogies, samosas also fall into this category, I'd say.

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In England the famous Cornish Pastie is an identically shaped pastry crust pie, but slightly larger, traditionally filled with mashed potato, diced carrot, peas and minced meats at one end and a sweet preserve of fruit at the other, they were originally eaten by Cornish tin miners centuries ago, who because of their dirty working conditions held the Pastie to eat by the curled up crust along the rounded edge of the pie, after eating the pastie the soiled crust would be discarded.

Regards,

Richard

The Great Cornish Pasty Debate is nicely summarised in Wikipedia: diced steak, potato, onion, swede (rutabaga). Start with everything raw. No pudding end in living memory I'm afraid.

I did say that they were traditionally made that way, I think there is sufficient anecdotal evidence to support that claim, I did not say that they were made in that fashion now, nor that they have been for some time!.

They taste fantastically of themselves, but are unlikely to qualify as the spiritual cousins of pastels.

As for them being the spiritual cousins of Pastele, I think there is strong evidence to suggest that they may in actual fact be the spiritual mother of Pastele.

Pastie Ireland

Pasty Cornwall

Pastele Portugal and Spain

All connected by the Celtic Peoples who populated the Eastern Atlantic coast of Europe

Pastel Indonesia

Pastele Puerto Rico

Pasteles Brazil

Pastelles Trinidad

All connected by the early Portugese and Spanish explorers and traders.

I would find it hard to believe that there is not some connection between all of these considering that the first documented evidence of the pasty is from the 12th century, and that they are all filled cooked pies or pastries.

I realise that the Puerto Rican version is wrapped in mashed plantain, the Trinidadian version is wrapped in cornmeal, It is not unusual I would suggest for different areas around the world to modify an item in both cooking style and ingredients to suit their locally available produce and facilities.

Regards,

Richard

"Don't be shy, just give it a try!"

Nungkysman: Food for the Body and the Soul.

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  • 3 years later...

how about this site?

http://www.elboricua.com/pasteles.html

and the yuca version

http://www.elboricua.com/PastelesYuca_RicanChef.htm

I remember making these with my mom, my abuela and my titi panchita.

We hand grated all the roots on box graters as the meat filling cooked for hours. I remember wrapping each pasteles and boiling them. Occassionally I will wander in to a cuchifrito place on the LES of the City and the similar smells will transport me back.

Peter: You're a spy

Harry: I'm not a spy, I'm a shepherd

Peter: Ah! You're a shepherd's pie!

- The Goons

live well, laugh often, love much

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