Pasteles (My way…)

PastelesWhen I crave the tastes of Puerto Rico, my hometown, I  prepare this dish – my own marriage of pasteles (the traditional meat-filled pies) and pinon (a Puerto Rican plantain pie similar to a lasagna).  While most recipes for pasteles are super labor-intensive and are typically reserved for bulk-cooking or special occasions, my version of pasteles is simple, straightforward and doable for an everyday meal.

The first step is to prepare your “dough”. I use ripe plantains and simply boil and mash them.Set up 1

Next, prepare the meat filling. My recommendation is that you make a large portion, freeze it and use it for other recipes.

Then, lay out a piece of foil and dried corn husk (that you’ve soaked to make pliable) and layer the “dough” and meat filling.

Finally, wrap up your packets and cook them in boiling water.

set up 4set up 3


  • Try replacing and/or combining the plantains with potatoes, yucca and other root vegetables
  • I use beef for my filling but how about ground pork, turkey or even soy crumbles?
  • Skip the packets and lean towards the pinon side of the recipe by layering the filling and “dough” in a casserole.

Pasteles (My way…)

• 12 – Dried corn husks (typically used for tamales – I prefer to use in place of banana leaves which are typical in recipes for pasteles)
• 4 tbsp – Olive oil
• ½ lb. – Ground beef
• Salt and pepper to taste
• ½ – Onion
• ½ – Jalapeno (deseeded and deveined)
• 5 – Garlic cloves
• ½ – Carrot
• ½ – Celery stalk
• 1 tbsp – Cumin
• 1 tbsp – Paprika
• 1 tsp – Coriander
• 1 tsp – Oregano
• 2 tbsp – Fresh culantro, chopped
• 3 tbsp – Tomato paste
• 3 tbsp – Apple cider vinegar
• 2 cups – Water
• 1 tsp – Sugar
• 2 tbsp – Olives stuffed with pimento, chopped
• 4 – Plantains


1. Soak corn husks in water for a few hours or overnight, if possible
2. In a blender or food processor, pulse the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and jalapeno until minced but not pureed/liquefied
3. Add 1 tbsp of the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat
4. Add the ground beef and a pinch of salt – cook until browned and then move the cooked meat onto a plate and set aside
5. Add another 1 tbsp of the oil to the skillet over medium-high heat
6. Add the minced vegetables with a dash of salt and pepper and the cumin, oregano, paprika, coriander and culantro – cook until softened and beginning to brown
7. Add tomato paste and sugar, mix it well into the mixture and cook it through until you see more browning and then immediately add apple cider vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any caramelized bits
8. Once the majority of the vinegar has evaporated, add the water
9. Reintroduce the cooked meat to the pan along with the olives
10.Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer – cook until most of the liquid evaporates and the sauce has thickened
11.Adjust seasoning to taste

1. Chop peeled plantains into one inch rounds and add to a pot of cold water seasoned with a generous amount of salt and pepper (you can also feel free to add additional flavoring ingredients such as garlic, onions, bay leaves)
2. Bring the water to a boil and cook plantains until they are soft and an inserted knife meets no resistance
3. Strain the plantains and place them in a mortar and pestle (or use a regular bowl and the head of a rolling pin)
4. Add one tbsp of the oil and mash the plantains until they are a paste; once they are mashed, add a second tbsp. of oil and mix in with a spoon to make them easier to work with

1. Lay out 12 pieces of aluminum foil (measuring approximately 8 ½ x 11)
2. Place a corn husk on each piece of foil
3. Using a standard-size spoon, place one spoon of the plantain mash in the center of each husk – use your fingers to flatten it
4. Place a spoon of the meat on top of each mound of plantain mash
5. Cover the meat sauce with one more spoon of the plantain mash – again, use your fingers to flatten and enclose the meat
6. Fold the husks over to create a small package
7. Enclose each package in the foil and seal by crimping
8. These can be frozen or stored in the refrigerator for one day.
9. When ready to serve, add packages to a boiling pot of water for 40 minutes. Serve by either placing package on a plate and allowing guests to open themselves or by removing it from the package and placing it on a plate with garnish

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