Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pastelillos – A Puerto Rican recipe from my childhood

Last week I got down and dirty with an old school Puerto Rican dish and I’d like to share the recipe with you. This is NOT a healthy recipe by any means but it’s something I grew up with, so sharing it with you means a lot.

Pastelillos are basically a fried outer dough shell filled with whatever type of filling you’d like: Cheese, veggies, meat, guava…etc. My family always uses ground beef, so this is how I made it. I was thinking about making it with 99% fat free ground turkey but it was my first time making them and I wanted to make them the way my mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother made them…one-to make sure I got the recipe down and two-because it’s a comfort thing.

Here’s what I used:

  • One package of  Goya plantillas (ready made dough in 10 inch disks)
  • One pound of 85% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 red pepper, chopped
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • oregano (fresh or dry) to taste
  • a few green olives, chopped (I didn’t the olives since I absolutely despise them, but my mother swears they belong in the recipe)
  • 1 egg white for sealing purposes
  • Canola oil –a lot of it

What you do:

The Filling:(it’s actually pretty basic beef browning)

Cook the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil for about 5 minutes to release the flavor. Crumble in the beef and cook together until meat is brown. Drain the fat.
After the fat is drained, bring back to flame and add the tomato paste and oregano. Cook for another five minutes, then turn of heat.


While you move onto the next part, you should heat up a frying pan with lots and lots of canola oil….I’m talking about 2 inches. It was probably half of a small bottle. Yeah, it’s a lot of freakin oil but they’re fried and they’re good.

The Dough:

On a floured surface, roll out the disks just to even and thin them out a little.


Place about a tablespoon (I used heaping tablespoons) of the beef mixture in the middle of the disk. Brush one side of the disk with the egg white wash.


Fold over the dough and seal. Then, take a fork and press down around the edges for the extra seal.


Then you can start frying them. Drop them into the oil when you know it’s hot (try dropping some water in the oil to test it. If the water sizzles, you’re ready to start frying)

Fry one, but no more than two, at a time. They don’t take long to fry---you throw them in, cover them with oil, and about 30-40 seconds later, flip. Do the same on the other side, take them out with tongs and place them on a plate with paper towels to drain.


They are best served fresh and piping hot (but be careful people! I don’t want anyone burning themselves!) Some people put hot sauce on the meat, but I just eat them plain.


I made 8 total. I ate one—it was all I needed—and I have to say they tasted pretty damned close to the ones my mom made (I have to tell her that hers are always better!)

This is obviously not an everyday recipe but it’s a traditional food in our family and I am proud to be able to share it with you. It’s always nice (and comforting) to taste a little piece of home, even when you’re hundreds of miles away from mom’s kitchen.

I hope you enjoyed my recipe!

No comments:

Post a Comment