Pasteles en Hoja (Dominican Tamales)

December 17, 2012

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

Is Lunes Latinos! And today I am sharing one more Dominican inspired Christmas dish. For the past 3 weeks I have been posting recipes that would be an excellent choice for your Christmas dinner. If  you have not been taking notes, here are the prior posts with these recipes.

Ruby Red Roasted Pork Shoulder

Pastelitos (Mini Empanadas)

Phyllo Wrapped Yuca Gorgonzola Mash

Ponche (Latin Eggnog)

I am very excited to share this new recipe as it is the quintessential Christmas dish in the Dominican Republic. This dish is special and desired by many but even though is so good, it is mainly, I can even go as far as only, prepared during Christmas time. What I am even more excited to share, is that 1) this was my first time doing them and they turned out much better than any other Pastel en Hoja that I have ever tried. And 2) I found them super easy to make and would like to encourage you to try them and feel this incredible satisfaction. I feel like I graduated, like I am now a true Dominican mom.

Pastel en Hoja - Dominican Tamales by hungryfoodlove.com

If you are not familiar with Pasteles en Hoja, let me give you a brief intro. Pasteles en Hoja are a starchy dough/masa based dished that is wrapped in plantain leaves. The masa is made of plantain and other vegetables like squash, yautia/malanga, yuca and green bananas. It is filled with meat of your choice but the most popular choices are ground beef or chicken.

If this description is not helpful, think of the vary famous tamales but instead of corn husk we use plantain leaves and instead of corn masa we use root vegetables and plantain masa. This is the Dominican version of a tamal.

If we think beyond the Dominican Republic, the Tamal/Pastel is a very popular dish all over Latin America. It is  cooked in many different ways but always with the same basic  processed of wrapping a starchy dough/masa filled with something yummy like meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables.

So you can see how versatile this concept is, take a look at these other versions.

Dominican Pastel en Hoja

For this recipe, the best tip I can give you is to add potatoes to your list of root vegetables. Potatoes are not commonly used in traditional Pastel en Hoja recipes but I thought it would help make this Pastel en Hoja extra soft and it did.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

Other vegetables used for the masa were green plantains, yautia/malanga and ayuama/West Indies squash/Kabocha squash. All the vegetables are grated or blended raw and seasoning is added for flavor.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

I warmed olive oil with annatto/achiote/bija powder in order to infuse the oil and blend the vegetables with this oil for a deep flavor and color.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

Once you have your masa ready you can create an assembly line, with the plantain leaves, meat fillings and masa to make the process much smoother.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

To assemble, take a piece of plantain leave about 10’’ x 10’’ add a teaspoon of oil and rub it in the leave. Add about 3 tablespoons of the masa and top it with about 1 ½ tablespoons of filling.

Fold one side of the leave so it covers the meat and then fold the other side of the leave so all the meat is covered. Then roll all the way vertically. To completely close the ends, fold the sides of the leave pocket.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

Use cooking string to make sure your leave pocket is secure. To be 100% sure your pocket is secure, wrap once more with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Boil for 45 minutes, carefully unwrap and serve.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

In the Dominican Republic we like to eat them with ketchup and hot sauce.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

Chicken is another great filling.

Pasteles en Hoja Dominican Tamales from hungryfoodlove.com

Dominican Pasteles en Hoja – yields 8

Ingredients

2 green plantains, large in size

1 pound yautia

1 pound kabocha squash

1 potato, medium in size

4 tablespoons of liquid seasoning (blended cilantro, onions, garlic, tomatoes)

1 tablespoon of salt

8 tablespoons of milk

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 teaspoons annatto/achiote/bija powder

Plantain leaves (sold frozen in the store) or parchment paper

Meat filling of your choice. I used ground beef cooked with tomato paste

Directions

Peel all the vegetables and grate them with the smallest size of the grater. If you still have some small chunks that you were not able to grate, add them with the grated vegetables to a food processor or blender.

To the blender add the seasonings, salt and milk and blend well.

In a small sauce pan warm olive oil with annatto/achiote/bija powder and let it all mix well. Add this oil to the blender and mix well with the vegetables mixture.

To assemble, take a piece of plantain leave about 10’’ x 10’’ add a teaspoon of oil and rub it in the leave. Add about 3 tablespoons of the masa and top it with about 1 ½ tablespoons of filling. (See pictures above)

Fold one side of the leave so it covers the meat and then fold the other side of the leave so all the meat is covered. Then roll all the way vertically. To completely close the ends, fold the sides of the leave pocket.

Use cooking string to make sure your leave pocket is secure and tight. To be 100% sure your pocket is secure, wrap once more with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Boil in a large pot full of water, for 45 minutes, carefully unwrap and serve.

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