Grandma’s Ultimate Puerto Rican Pasteles

Enjoy one of the Caribbean's most cherished holiday dishes.

Makes 4 dozenPuerto Rican PastelesPuerto Rican Pasteles


1 ½ cup of corn or vegetable oil
¼ achiote (or annatto) in powder form*

Check out the story of how Abuela's pasteles are the ultimate!


2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder
1 lb. boneless smoked ham
¼ cup Adobo Goya Sin Pimienta*


1 garlic bulb, peeled and finely chopped
1 large green pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
1 small can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 can (16 oz.) garbanzo beans with liquid
½ cup raisins
1 jar (8 oz.) chopped pimentos with liquid
1 jar (8 oz.) manzanilla olives, drained
½ cup capers, drained

MASA (or dough)

5 lbs. yautia or malanga, chopped*
25 green bananas, chopped**
2 lbs. pumpkin or squash, chopped
2 green plantains, chopped
½ cup achiote oil
2 cups chicken stock with 2 tbsp. salt added



Rinse the pork shoulder and smoked ham under cold tap water, and pat dry. Season pork with Adobo. Cut meat the shoulder into ½ inch cubes, and set aside.


Mix both ingredients in a saucepan, and warm them medium-low heat until the oil turns a yellowish-red color. Remove the sauce pan from the heat, and let the oil cool.


Add ½ cup of achiote oil into a pre-heated caldero or heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Once the oil is hot (without smoking), add the pork and smoked ham. Sauté for 5 minutes at medium-high heat; add the first five Sofrito ingredients (garlic, green pepper, onion, cilantro and tomato) to the meat mix, and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the last six Sofrito ingredients (tomato sauce, garbanzos, raisins, pimentos, olives and capers). Saute for another 5 minutes, but this time at low heat. Remove the cooked mix. This is the filling for your pasteles.


Divide your chopped vegetables into 4-5 small groups. Add each group into a food processor with a couple of tablespoons of achiote oil and ½ cup of the prepared chicken stock. The finished masa should be thick and spreadable. This is the dough for your pasteles.


Gather the following items:

2 boxes parchment paper
3 packages banana leaves***
½ cup achiote oil
Meat filling
Kitchen string

Cut the parchment paper in 12" squares and set them apart. Set a stove burner to high heat. Take each banana leaf, and move it quickly over the hot burner until it turns dark but without burning. Once cooled, gently rip them into 3"x 6"pieces. Don't worry if the banana leaf pieces are a little bigger or smaller; the idea is to impart the banana leaf flavor into the pasteles.

To assemble a pastel: set a square of parchment paper on a clean surface. Place a banana leaf piece on top. Take about a teaspoon of the achiote oil, and spread a circle in the middle of the banana leaf. Take about 2 tablespoons of the masa, and spread it on top of the achiote oil, in somewhat of an oval shape. Take about 1 tablespoon of the filling and spread it on top of the masa. Follow the steps in this video to learn how to tie up your pasteles.

Cooking pasteles: Fill a large pot with water, salt to taste and let it boil. Once it's boiling, put your tied-up pasteles in the pot. Cook uncovered for one hour. Remove them from the pot, untie them and serve on their banana leaf.

*You can find these items in the Hispanic food aisle of your favorite supermarket
**Ask your grocer to sell you a box of green bananas without the gas used to ripen them
***Banana leaves can be found in Oriental markets

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