Discover how to cook authentic pasteles de yuca, made with cassava root. These cassava pockets stuffed with ground meat and cooked wrapped in a green plantain or green banana leaf is the lesser-known version of pasteles en hoja, and one of our favorite Christmas foods.
Why we ❤️ it
I bet half of our readers are knee-deep in food right now, and the other half obsessing about what food will be on the table on Christmas. And on many of those tables, pasteles de yuca en hoja (cassava and chicken Pockets) will be one of the stars of the evening.
What are pasteles de yuca?
Pasteles de yuca are cassava-based wraps filled with – usually – a meat stuffing and cooked wrapped in plantain leaves (or banana leaves).
Pasteles resemble tamales in shape and concept but the difference between tamales and pasteles resides mostly in the ingredients for the dough (masa), and its taste.
Pasteles de yuca are the less common version of pasteles, pasteles en hoja made with plantains and roots are much more popular.
Traditional pasteles are usually stuffed with beef mince, ground pork, or pulled chicken filling (pasteles de pollo, pasteles de cerdo, pasteles de res), but many other versions can be found depending on the cook's taste and adventurousness. We have recipes for many filings that go great with pasteles de yuca, so pick one below:
Pasteles en hoja de yuca.
- Making pasteles can be quite labor-intensive. There is a reason why most people just buy them frozen or pre-made from their preferred vendor (it's a cottage industry in our country). However, I've found that if you break the steps into several days, you can just boil them the day you serve them.
- As you can see, the filling is not part of our recipe; this is because we have several picks for you to choose from.
- If you have aceite de achiote (achiote oil), you can use it instead of bija (achiote seeds).
Freezing pasteles de yuca
- You can make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate it to make the pasteles the next day. Once the pasteles are made and wrapped (wrapping is what takes the most time). You can freeze them for up to a month.
- Once frozen, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, and continue by boiling them before serving.
Wrapping and tieing pasteles
- Wrapping pasteles and tieing them seem more complicated than it really is. Sure, it takes some time, but it's quite easy. Traditionally, pasteles are wrapped in plantain leaves and tied with twine (cooking string). Nowadays, if we don't have banana or plantain leaves, we can use parchment paper, or a combination of parchment paper and leaves (the latter is recommended if you will freeze them).
- The video has a quick tutorial on how to tie them, but nothing beats practice. The good news? You'll probably get it after you wrap and tie one or two.
Vegan pasteles de yuca
- This is a recipe that can be quite easily converted to a vegan one. Instead of using butter, substitute for oil (I always prefer olive oil), and instead of milk, use your preferred milk substitute (almond milk works best, in my experience).
- We also have a vegan mince that makes for a fantastic filling for vegan pasteles. And yes, we have tried it!
About this recipe
As I mentioned above, most Dominicans do not make pasteles at home, we either eat it at our favorite places, or buy them from our favorite pasteles vendor, and all of them have their own recipes, and each has their own fans.
This recipe is my preferred way to make pasteles because while it retains the chewiness that we all love in pasteles de yuca, these are creamy, have a lovely color, and can be made with the minimum effort possible.
If you have any other way of making pasteles de yuca, I'd love to hear it. Let us know in the comments.
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Pasteles de Yuca en Hoja [Recipe + Video] Cassava Pockets
- 2 pound yuca (cassava), [0.9 kg], peeled and washed
- ½ pound auyama (kabocha squash), [0.23 kg], peeled
- 1 cup milk (whole or skim)
- 1 tablespoon bija (annato, achiote) powder
- 2 tablespoon butter (salted), at room temperature
- 1¾ tablespoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups filling of your choice, See list above the recipe
- 3 plantain leave squares, and parchment paper, cut into 6 squares of 5"x 5" [13 x 13 cm] .
- Butchers twine, (string for cooking)
- Grate yuca and auyama (separately) with the finest side of the grater. Use a food processor instead if you have one.With a clean cotton cloth or cheesecloth, squeeze the yuca to get rid of as much liquid as possible. Remove any big pieces or clumps.Combine yuca and auyama and set aside.
- Combine cassava and yuca mixture, milk, bija, butter, ¾ tablespoon of salt, and garlic powder. Mix well.
- Put 3 tablespoons of the mixture on the center of one of these squares.Put 3 tablespoons of filling in the center, cover with 3 more tablespoons of the root mixture to cover the filling.Fold the leaf square in the shape of an envelope. Wrap again in parchment paper and tie tightly. You can now freeze if you so choose. See notes above the recipe.
- Heat ½ galón [1 lt] of water in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water.Once it breaks the boil add the pasteles and simmer for 35 - 40 minutes, making sure they're always covered with water. Unwrap one to check for doneness, and boil another 10 minutes if needed.
- Unwrap and serve with ketchup or hot sauce, or both.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
Pasteles and tamales are similar concepts, but the ingredients are different. Tamales are made from corn batter and cooked and wrapped in corn husks. The batter for pasteles is made from a mixture of root vegetables and other vegetables and wrapped in plantain or banana leaves.
Still wrapped and tied, and placed in an airtight container or freezer bag, pasteles can last up to 6 months in the freezer.
Yes, you can use a food processor to make pasteles in less time and with less effort. This is how we make them in this recipe, and it shortens the preparation time considerably.
Once wrapped, pasteles are cooked in boiling salted water for around 40 minutes counting from the water breaks the boil.
Published Dec 23, 2014, revised