Pasteles en hoja are made with many ingredients that, although common in the Dominican Republic, might be hard to come across in your own country.
Plan this recipe ahead to give yourself time to hunt down all the necessary ingredients it will be worth it. If you find it impossible to get the banana tree leaves, don’t despair; you can use parchment paper as a substitute.
Few dishes are as cherished to Dominicans as Pasteles en Hojas. It is an essential component of the Christmas and New Year's Eve dinner.
- 1 unripe plantain
- 1/2 lb of yautía blanca (taro)
- 1/2 lb of ñame (yam)
- 1 lb auyama (West Indies pumpkin)
- 1 teaspoon of seasoning powder
- 1 quarter cup of milk
- For the filing
- 1/2 lb of ground meat
- 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 small red onion, diced into very small cubes
- 1 green pepper, diced into very small cubes
- 3 banana tree leaves and/or parchment paper
- String (the kind used for tying ham while cooking)
- 1/2 cup of ketchup
- 1 teaspoon of hot sauce
- Cut the green pepper and get rid of the seeds.
- Mix the beef, pepper and onion, add a pinch of oregano, a pinch of pepper and a teaspoon of salt.
- In a shallow pan heat a tablespoon of oil.
- Add the beef and stir so it cooks uniformly.
- Add two tablespoons of water and the tomato paste, mix well.
- Simmer over medium heat, adding a tablespoon water when it becomes necessary.
- When the meat is thoroughly cooked (about 15 mins) let all the liquid evaporate.
- Season with salt to taste.
- Remove from the heat and reserve.
- Peel and grate the plantains, malanga, pumpkin and yams.
- In a deep bowl mix the malanga, yam, plantain, milk, seasoning powder and 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Cut the plantain leaves into 6 5"x5" squares.
- Put 3 tablespoons of the plantain and root mixture on the center of one of these squares.
- Put 2 tablespoon of filling in the center, cover with 3 more tablespoons of the root mixture to cover the filling.
- Fold the leave square in the shape of an envelope.
- Wrap again in parchment paper and tie tightly.
- When all are done, bring half a gallon of water to boil in a deep pot.
- When the water is boiling, add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Put all the pockets in the boiling water and boil over medium heat for 30 minutes.
- Unwrap before serving.
- Serve garnished with hot sauce and ketchup.
For wrapping I prefer to use both plantain leaves and parchment paper, it is more waterproof that way and the plantain leaves retain a nicer color. If you cannot find plantain leaves, then use parchment paper only.
Please be aware that "yam" does not refer to sweet potatoes, but to a different vegetable.