Monday, November 23, 2009

Pasteles!!! A time honored Puerto Rican Tradition.

Puerto Rican Pasteles (similar to Mexican Tamales in shape and concept, but not made from corn) are a cherished holiday tradition.  No Puerto Rican household would be without pasteles during the Christmas season.

I have wonderful memories of pasteles making growing up.  My parents would start the process in the evening usually after all the evening clean up was done and us kids were off to bed (at least until the "first fruits" were ready; I was always up to have the first of the pasteles as soon as they were cooked).  Pop would prepare the masa grating by hand each of the vegetables and Mom would prepare the meat; then when each of these were ready together they would assemble and wrap the pasteles.  They would work late into the night, most times making well over 100 in one sitting.

The making of Puerto Rican pasteles is a time consuming process, not one usually taken on alone; just as my parents did this process together, the process is usually a shared family event.  I myself have taken on the task of making pasteles twice before, once alone, another accompanied by my sister Carmen and my cousins Barbara and Belinda.  However, this year in an effort to preserve the element of surprise for our "early bird" Thanksgiving, I decided to tackle this task alone once again.  But I am never really alone, as I had my best helper, my daughter Briana, help me in preparing the vegetables; cleaning, peeling, etc. and I also had the help of my sister Carmen when it came to wrapping.  

I started my task by checking out the recipe at, unlike my parents who prepared their pasteles without having to reference a recipe, I have not yet reached that level of confidence so I am thankful for recipes such as this one being posted.  This particular recipe yields 18 pasteles, but I wanted more than that so I did double the recipe.

First I set off in search of my ingredients.  This of course started with a trip to the farmers market for all of the vegetables that go into the recipe.  Unfortunately, not all items were found in one place, so after going to a total of 4 stores (there must have been a shortage of green bananas, as that was the hard item to find), all ingredients were purchased and I was ready to start.

I prepared the masa and the meat...

...then it was time to assemble.


In the end just over 40 pasteles were made in total.  We will be enjoying them throughout the holidays!

But I look forward to another pasteles making session before the holidays are over, accompanied by my my daughter Briana, my sister Carmen, and my cousin Barbara (hint, hint ladies).

Feels like Christmas is in the air!

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