If you love pasteles, you’re gonna love this recipe for pastele stew. Tender pork chunks infused with classic Puerto Rican flavors of garlic, onion, cilantro, and achiote. Perfect for anytime, but especially in the cooler weather months.
Oh pasteles, the yummy goodness of Puerto Rico and quite popular here in Hawai’i. The perfect pastele can be hard to come by and even harder to craft in your own home. But not to worry, this deconstructed pastele stew is a simple recipe.
This is my husband’s pastele stew recipe that he adapted from his grandfather. Sharing this recipe is a tribute to a wonderful, loving man who unfortunately no longer graces this earth. I’m sure he’d be proud to see how well my husband is making one of his favorite recipes. Love you Papa!
If you are looking for other favorite recipes of Hawai’i, check out these recipes below
What are pasteles?
A Pastele is a traditional Latin American/Carribbean dish similar to a tamale. In the 20th century Puerto Ricans migrated to Hawai’i to work on the sugar plantations. Along with them they brought their yummy foods, most notably the pastele.
Classic pasteles are made using a banana leaf, then a layer of masa made of green banana paste, stuffed with a meat mixture, tied up, and cooked. These are quite labor intensive to make. If your brave and make your own pasteles, the NY Times has a great recipe.
What is achiote?
Achiote is a tropical tree that bears pods with little redish-orange seeds that are used to color and flavor foods. Achiote has a light peppery flavor with a touch of nutmeg. Achiote is one of the classic flavors used in making pastele stew. As a kid we would pick the pods and clean the seeds out, then mix the seeds with water, and pour the colored liquid in to water guns. Then it was an all out water gun war and as you would guess quite a bit of stained clothes. But shh, don’t tell my mom that’s what happened to my nice white shirt.
Where can you find achiote?
Achiote can be found in the spices section of your local grocery store or online.
How to make achiote oil?
If you can’t find achiote oil in the store, not to worry you can make your own and it’s really simple.
1/2 cup oil of choice
1 tablespoon achiote seeds
Pour the oil of your choice in to a medium pot over medium to medium high heat. Add achiote seeds to the oil. Heat oil until the seeds begin to sizzle and the oil starts to change color. Take the oil off the heat and allow to cool with the seeds in place. Once cooled you can use the oil to make this ‘ono pastele stew.
What can I serve with pastele stew?
- White rice
- Gandule rice
- Macaroni salad
- Green salad
How to store pastele stew?
If you just so happen to have extra, which is a rarity at my house, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Can you freeze pastele stew?
Yes. We often make large batches and freeze in a zip top bag. This can keep for 3-6 months.
How to make pastele stew?
Set stove to medium high heat. Place large pot on stove. Add achiote oil, pork, salt, garlic, onion. Saute pork until browned, about 3-5 minutes. Then add tomato paste and parsley. Stir to combine. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour. If you like your meat more tender you can cook for a longer amount of time. Once meat reaches desired tenderness add olives and stir to combine.
For the pastele stew
- Set stove to medium high heat. Place large pot on stove.
- Add achiote oil, pork, salt, garlic, onion. Saute pork until browned, about 3-5 minutes.
- Then add tomato paste and parsley. Stir to combine.
- Add in chicken broth and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
- Lower heat to medium low and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 hour. If you like your meat more tender you can cook for a longer amount of time.
- Once meat reaches desired tenderness add olives and make the plantain dumplings.
For the plantain dumplings
- Add peeled plantains to a food processor. Blend until smooth.
- Add salt, garlic powder, cumin, and annatto the food processor. Blend until just combined.
- Scoop about a tablespoon of mixture and add to the pot of pastele stew. Repeat with remaining mixture, being careful not to place the dough balls on one another. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until heated through and ENJOY!
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