Christmas’s Eve’s Dinner Present: “Pasteles en Hoja”!

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Hello friends and fellow foodies!!

The most important foodie day has arrived!

For Dominicans and for most other Hispanics “Nochebuena” or the dinner of Christmas’s Eve is the most important and significant meal of the day!

What could be bigger than sharing a meal as family while expecting the birth of our Lord and Savior?

Today I bring a recipe that’s up for the day! A traditional component of the Dominican “Nochebuena” and one directly from my personal cookbook, from which I’m always a bit jealous and reluctant to bring recipes, as they are our family’s cook history and wealth. But this is my Christmas’s gift to you all!

“Pasteles en hoja” (Literal: “Cakes in leaves”) is a very traditional Christmas meal. Most people buy them, as they are very hard to make and require a master recipe to start with.  The recipes vary a lot, as recipes are adjusted to match people’s tastes. Some like them softer, some harder, some more colorful, some sweeter, some saltier.

Pasteles are very similar in looks to Mexican “Tamales” and to many other wrapped treasures in Hispanic cuisine.

Since you’ll now have your master recipe, you should know how the adjusting works. Once you prepare and taste this recipe. You can adjust as follows to match your own taste:

  1. if you want them harder, increase the plantains.
  2. If you want them softer, increase the green bananas.
  3. if you want them sweeter, increase the ripe plantains. Less sweet, reduce the ripe plantains.
  4. If you want a more gourmet taste, increase the white yautia and the green banana while compensating by reducing the other ingredients.

Ingredients for the “Pasteles en hoja” dough.

  1. 12 green bananas.
  2. 1 ripe banana.
  3. 4 green plantains.
  4. 3 ripe plantains.
  5. 2 lb. white yautía.
  6. 2 lb. yellow yautía.
  7. ½ lb. Auyama (pumpkin)
  8. 2 liters of whole milk.
  9. 1 package of bouillon cubes. (Chicken)
  10. 1 spoonful of garlic paste.
  11. Bija and oil.
  12. 1 spoonful of sour orange juice.
  13. Salt.

Ingredients for the filling 

  1. 1 ½ pounds of ground meat. (beef)
  2. 1 pounds of ground meat (pork)
  3. 3 boxes of raisins.
  4. 2 cubanela peppers.
  5. 2 big onions.
  6. 2 bell peppers
  7. 2 bouillon cubes.
  8. 5 spoonfuls of tomato paste.
  9. 3 spoonfuls of garlic paste.
  10. A cilantrico bush.
  11. A leek bush.
  12. Paprika, pepper and salt to taste.

Additional ingredients 

1. banana leaves (To wrap. Banana leaves add aroma and flavor)

2. Cord.

The banana leaves should be passed through fire so that they become flexible to use as wraps.

Cut the cord in pieces to tie the “pasteles”.

Preparation of the meat 

The meat is cooked with all the ingredients and it is left very dry.

Preparation for the pasteles dough. 

Peel and grate all the pasteles dough ingredients. Then blend them with milk so that it becomes a creamy paste but not too watery. Season with the garlic, the bouillon cubes and the salt.

Fry the bija in oil to extract its colors. Use the oil to mix in the dough. It will add the traditional color.

Extend the banana leaves in sufficiently big squares to create pasteles of medium size. Toss a quantity of some 5 spoonfuls (if they you have one of those big serving spooks one would do) and a tablespoon of meat. Add some three raisins and a pepper piece and wrap. Tie it smoothly and take it to the freezer.

To eat them. Toss them in boiling water with salt for about 40 minutes. Take out, untie and enjoy. People eat them with cátchup and with spicy sauce. But the first taste should always only pastel, to taste the pastel and its filling properly.

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About Arturo Féliz-Camilo

Escritor. Consultor. Historiador. Cocinero tradicional Dominicano. (Writer. Consultant. Historian. Dominican traditional food cook)
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