Green Banana and Pork Tamales (Pasteles)

These flavorful tamales are sold from street stands during the holidays in Puerto Rico. This recipe first appeared in our December 2011 issue along with Kathleen Squires's story Island Holiday.

Pasteles (Green Banana and Pork Tamales)
These flavorful tamales are sold from street stands during the holidays in Puerto Rico.
Yield: serves 16

Ingredients

  • 34 cup canola oil
  • 1 tbsp. achiote seeds
  • 1 lb. pork loin, cut into ¼″ cubes
  • 8 oz. ham, cut into 14″ cubes
  • 34 cup pitted dates, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. capers, minced
  • 12 pitted green olives, minced
  • 4 sprigs cilantro, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 12 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 12 (15-oz) can chickpeas, drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 lb. white yautia or taro, peeled, rinsed, and grated
  • 2 lb. green bananas, peeled and grated
  • 12 cup milk
  • 12 cup blanched whole almonds

Instructions

  1. To make filling, heat oil and achiote in a 1-qt. saucepan over high heat until oil turns red; remove and discard achiote. Mix ¼ cup achiote oil, pork, ham, dates, juices, oregano, capers, olives, cilantro, garlic, onions, peppers, chickpeas, and salt and pepper in a bowl; chill. To make the dough, process remaining achiote oil, yautia, bananas, and milk in a food processor until smooth.
  2. To form the pasteles, spread ¼ cup of the dough onto a 5″ x 3 ½″ rectangle in center of a 12″ square of banana leaf or parchment paper; place 3 tbsp. filling over dough; top with 5-6 almonds. Fold square in half so dough encloses filling; continue folding under the open top and sides to form a tight package. Wrap package tightly in a 12″ square of foil; repeat with remaining dough and filling. Bring an 8-qt. saucepan of water to a boil; add packets. Simmer until filling is cooked through, about 1 hour. Drain and cool before serving.