Make the dough one day ahead. It is easier
to handle when it's cold and it won't be so hard on the cook. Have a
pastel-making get-together with your friends. The time will pass quickly
if you are having fun with friends and are listening to Puerto Rican
music. We do it all the time and it's great fun.
HINT - Boil the green bananas for a few minutes until the peel begins to turns black. Then you can just pull off the peel and grate the guineitos in the food processor. Make sure you don't leave them in the pot too long.
Peel the rest of the vegetables, rinse them and grate in a food processor. Add milk, oil, and salt. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
It is best to do this the day before actually putting the pasteles together. It makes for easier handling masa.
Relleno (meat filling)
Heat the oil in a "caldero" and cook the meat and ham for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low for approximately 25 minutes until the pork is completely cooked. Cool.
The Wrapper (use either banana leaves or aluminum foil)
If you have just a few plantain leaves cut them in small pieces and add a piece to each pastel for more flavor.
Aluminum foil.Use aluminum foil
with butcher paper or plastic wrap on top to make a "wrapper."
You may add a piece of banana leaf (if available) right on top.
Assembling the pasteles
Grease center of the wrapper - using the back of a spoon dipped in achiote oil.
HINT - Use a ½ cup measuring cup to scoop dough (this helps keep the pasteles the same size). In the center of the wrapper place ½ cup of dough and thinly spread it not more than 5" long and about 4" wide. Keep a small ruler handy to determine size until you can "eye-ball it."
HINT - Use a 1/8 cup measuring cup to scoop the meat filling and fill just a bit over the brim. That should measure 2½ tablespoons. Place 2½ tablespoons of meat filling on the masa - a bit off the center.
Fold the wrapper in half to close the pastel. If using foil, fold the edges over until tightly sealed. If using leaves just fold one over the other until completely sealed.
Tie the pastel.
(You may skip this part completely if you are using foil paper -
simply make sure the folds are pressed securely.) Tie the pastel
with string to hold it together. Make one run of string lengthwise and
two runs the other way (see picture above). This will hold the banana
Cook the pasteles for 1 hour turning them once half way through cooking. Freshly cooked pasteles taste much better. Freeze them raw.
¡Buen provecho! . . . .