Christmas Recipe: Traditional 'Pasteles En Hoja'

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STEP 1: Achiote Oil

• ¾ cup olive oil
• 1 ½ tablespoons achiote or annatto seeds (international foods aisle)

1. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil.
2. Add achiote seeds and heat until seeds have sizzled for about a minute and oil turns orange. Careful not to burn.

STEP 2: Sofrito 

1. 1 large yellow onion
2. 1 cubanelle pepper or 1 green bell pepper
3. 1 red bell pepper
4. 1 medium head of garlic
5. 1 bunch cilantro
6. 12 mini sweet peppers or 1 red bell pepper (optional)
7. 6 leaves recao - (Eryngium) (optional)
8. ¼ cup pimento stuffed olives
9. 1 tablespoon capers
10. 2 teaspoons salt
11. 1 tablespoon black pepper
12. 1 tablespoon dried oregano
13. ½ cup olive oil

1. Wash, peel, seed and coarsely chop all ingredients.
2. Place in a blender and purée.
3. Store in a glass covered jar covered and keep in refrigerator for later use.

SETP 3: Meat Filling 

• 3 tablespoons achiote oil
• 3 ½ - 4 pounds pork chops (bones removed and diced ½-¾ inch pieces)
• 2 teaspoons adobo (international aisle)
• 2 tablespoons sofrito
• 1-6 ounce jar roasted red peppers, diced (reserve liquid)

• In a large deep skillet, heat achiote oil.
• Add pork.  Season while cooking and add adobo and sofrito.  Saute until no longer pink.
• Add roasted peppers and its liquid.
• Cook on low simmer for about 30-45 minutes. To keep moist, add water ½ a cup at a time, if needed.

STEP 4: Masa (dough) 

• 12 green bananas
• 1 green plantain
• ½ cup achiote oil
• 2 tablespoons sofrito
• 1-2 teaspoons salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, peel and finely grate bananas and green plantain. Tip: To avoid staining, use gloves when handling large amounts of bananas such as this and protect your surfaces.
2. Add achiote oil and sofrito; and mix well.
3. Add 1 teaspoon salt and mix well. Taste and add more if needed.

STEP 5: Assembling 

Ingredients and supplies:
• Aluminum foil
• Banana leaves (optional)
• Pork Mixture
• Garbanzo beans (chick peas)
• Pimento stuffed olives

Assembling and Cooking Directions:
1. On a flat surface, place a 12x12 sheet of foil.
2. Layer with a piece of banana leaf.
3. Spread ½ cup of green banana mixture directly onto banana leaf.
4. Drop two teaspoons of the meat mixture.
5. Add 1-2 olives and 2-3 garbanzo beans.
6. Fold over making a rectangular shape sealing all sides and free of air.
7. Drop in boiling salted water for approximately 30 minutes.  Remove from water with tongs.  Peel off foil and serve with or without banana leaf.

Freeze uncooked pasteles. When ready to cook, do not defrost. Simply take from freezer to boiling salted water and cook for a little longer (45 minutes).

Makes 12-15 pasteles.