Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's Pastelillos Tiiiiiiiime!

Oh yeah! Oh yeah! It's Pastelillos time!

What's so great about Pastelillos time? Well aside from my obvious reference to Jersey Shore [the most entertaining show on television and the greatest gift MTV has ever given the world] pastelillos are Puerto Rican meat pies, better known as empenadas, usually filled with chicken or pork, and deep fried. Need I say more? Me encanta la comida de Puerto Rico, but I can only get it when I'm home in Jersey, because much to my disappointment [but probably to the benefit of my wallet and waistline] there isn't much of a Puerto Rican community here in Baltimore. However, I'm convinced that after my Pandora's souffles fiasco, the universe is trying to make things up to me. Case in point, just last week, Keeley at My Life on a Plate made these delicious looking chicken empenadas. After reading the post, I immediately  wanted one several, and lamented these feelings in her comments section. Then right after I invited myself over to at dinner Keeley's house, I realized four things:

1.) I'm kind of a fat bastard, and while currently this is only a state of mind, it could very easily manifest itself physically if don't keep my shit in check.
2.) I totally had the ingredients to make my own pastelillos and I could save myself a two hour drive home and an awkward conversation with my mom about why I only came home for Puerto Rican food.
3.) That I'm not a fat bastard yet, and I can start keeping my shit in check right after I made these deep fried meat pies.
4.) Keeley is an alumni of my Alma mater, and she, Latoya, Hillary and I could totally have a blogger meet up spectacular at homecoming next weekend. Shazaam! [Go Blue Hens!]

I debated whether or not to buy pre-made pastry rounds or make the dough myself because I'm a lazy foodie, and would actually prefer not to make my own dough. But after watching Private Practice on Thursday and realizing that Friday was the kickoff to Halloween weekend, I decided to stay my single female ass indoors and make the dough myself. There's nothing like the fear of being assaulted on the street and losing my kick ass parking spot on a Friday night to shake the lazy right out of me. In fact, I'll preface this recipe right now by saying it was labor intensive. From the dough to the filling to not having the appropriate size pan for deep frying, I put in work for this dish. But it was a labor of love, and I'm quite proud of my MacGuyver kitchen skills. Don't act like you don't remember MacGuyver, he was bad ass, and I loved that show! With that said, this recipe is not authentically Puerto Rican in any way, but it was delicious!

Dough (adapted from Rican Recipes)

3 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter (cold, cut into cubes)
1 egg (well beaten)
3/4 cup cold water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Vegetable oil (at least 32oz)

Mix flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter into the flour mixture. Whisk the egg and water, and oil together, and add liquid mixture to flour, thoroughly mixing with a fork, until you form a large dough ball. Set aside while making the filling.

Filling (a MacGuyver style original)
2 boneless pork chops, finely cubed
2 slices thick cut, apple wood smoked bacon, chopped
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch saffron threads
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp olive oil

Chop/mince the onion and garlic and set aside. Cutting up 2 medium pork chops into finely cubed pieces took considerable effort. Traditionally pastelillos are filled with ground or shredded meat, but since I don't own a functioning  food processor [I have pieces of one I got on freecycle, but that's a story for another day] I had to get old school with it. I have a new appreciation for pre-ground meet, pricey gadgets, and slavery [yeah, son]. Combine the chopped pork and chopped bacon with the seasoning, make sure meat is well coated. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium high heat, and add onion and garlic. Saute about three minutes, then add meat, cook about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside.

Take dough, and cut into 10 pieces. Work each piece with a rolling pin [or in my case, an empty wine bottle that I saved as a souvenir from España] into the size of a small plate. Add 2 tbsp of meat filling per pastelillo, coat the edge with a little water and fold over. Seal edges with a fork. When oil is hot [365F for those with frying thermometers] submerge one pastry into oil. Cook about two minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from oil and place on a plate with paper towels to absorb oil.

But wait, there's more!

I ran out of meat with two rolled out pastries left. Then I had one of those light bulb moments that I love. I remembered I had some left over frozen raspberries from the souffles and some marscarpone cheese.

Dolci Pastelillos
3oz raspberries
3oz marscarpone cheese
1/2 tsp fresh shaved cinnamon
2 tsp sugar

Combine ingredients in a bowl and spoon mixture into pastry rounds. Fold over and press sealed with a fork. Fry in hot oil about two minutes on each side. Remove from oil, and let cool on paper towels. Drizzle with remaining raspberry juice.

I don't think I have to tell you how damn good this entire meal was. Oh and in case you're wondering what those greens on my plate were, it was Swiss chard sauteed in rendered bacon fat and black pepper. I may have a problem when it comes to bacon. But fear not, in the face of my obvious unhealthy obsession with bacon, I'm putting the bacon in the freezer and going vegetarian for the next week or two.


  1. You are hardcore, Nadette! I've never, EVER, seen my mom or aunts or anybody from my family make the pastellito dough from scratch! Lol! Everyone just buys the frozen Goya discs! But these look soooo good right now, especially when I'm sitting here eating fat-free yogurt for breakfast! I like the Dolci one too! Interesting take on a Latin classic :)

  2. Hey lady, check out our Fri. night post. You won something!



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