Trinidadian Meat Pastelles
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Recipe courtesy of Roger Mooking


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  • Level: Advanced
  • Total: 2 hr 20 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 1 hr 20 min
  • Cook: 30 min
  • Yield: 24 pastelles
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Corn Dough: 



Avocado Cilantro Root Puree:


Special equipment:
Special Equipment: 8-inch pastelle/tortilla press
  1. For the corn dough: Add the cornmeal, coconut sugar and sea salt to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Turn the stand mixer to a low speed and add 3 1/2 cups water followed by the melted butter. Once it starts to come together, turn the mixer to medium speed and mix for 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap touching the dough and allow to rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Once the dough has rested, make 24 equal-size balls, approximately the size of an ice cream scoop. Place all on a tray and cover with a damp towel to prevent drying out.
  2. For the filling: While the dough is resting, preheat a large rondeau pan to high heat. Add the vegetable oil and immediately add the ground meats. Saute until half-cooked, breaking up the meat as small as possible using a potato masher. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and then add the onions and saute for a couple of minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add the dried herbs and chiles and saute for 1 minute. Add the olives, raisins, chicken stock, tomato paste, capers and Worcestershire, and simmer over medium heat until the liquid is almost fully reduced and the meat comes to a paste-like consistency. Season with salt and then allow to cool fully.
  3. For assembly: Cover your prep surface with several layers of newspaper (this can be a messy job). Using an 8-inch pastelle/tortilla press, place a piece of a 16-inch long aluminum foil strip on the bottom of the press and top with a banana leaf. Lightly coat the banana leaf with oil and place a dough ball on top, rolling the ball over the leaf to coat it in oil. Brush a square of aluminum foil liberally with some vegetable oil and place on top of the corn dough ball. Press the dough using the pastelle/tortilla press until it becomes a flat, round piece of dough. Set aside the top square of foil to reuse.
  4. Remove the bottom piece of aluminum foil, banana leaf and flattened dough to a flat surface and place approximately 2 heaping tablespoons of the cooled meat filling on half of the dough, starting from the center out towards the edge, making sure to leave about a 1/2-inch rim of dough around the edge. Fold the half-moon of uncovered dough over the meat using the banana leaf and aluminum foil and press the edges together. Fold into a rectangular package, by first rolling it then sealing the ends by folding with the banana leaf and foil. Repeat until all the packages are complete.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and place as many packages as you want in the water until fully cooked and heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the water with tongs and place on a tray to cool enough so you can handle it, approximately 2 minutes.
  6. For the avocado cilantro root puree: Put the avocado, lemon juice and cilantro root in a food processor and process until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper, and then transfer to a non-reactive bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  7. Serve the pastelles hot with the avocado cilantro root puree.

Cook’s Note

Place leftover pastelles in an airtight bag and place in the freezer. When you want a pastelle, boil in water from frozen until fully cooked and heated through, 25 to 30 minutes.

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