Pasteles Guisados (Pasteles Stew)

Laura Manuel-Arrighi Recipe

By Laura Manuel-Arrighi NikiArri

An Army :-)

Since trying this recipe about 5-6 years ago, it has become my family's favorite stew. The savory pork coupled with the banana dumplings and spices mimic the tamale-like pasteles to a tee. A good helping of cilantro brings out the rich flavor of the dish for a home run. I have served this over steamed white rice or over gandules (pigeon peas) rice or even without rice but with fried bread and bacalao (cod) salad as sides. BUEN PROVECHO!


1/3 c
1 1/3 c
olive oil
4 or 5
large green bananas
1/2 c
achiote oil
salt, to taste
2 lb
pork butt or shoulder, cubed to 3/4 inch. (don't trim too much of the fat, if any)
6 Tbsp
achiote oil
1 1/4 large
onion, chopped
2 large
cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp
ground cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp
bay leaves
1 c
cilantro, fresh, chopped (stems and leaves)
1/2 c
tomato sauce
15 oz
1 can, pitted olives, undrained
9 c
1 1/2 lb
masa, prepared the night before
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
extra freshly chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions Step-By-Step

Heat olive oil and achiote seeds over medium heat for 5 minutes or just until oil has taken reddish color of seeds. Cool.
Store in tightly sealed glass jar.

Note: This recipe makes more than what is called for in stew recipe.(I refrigerate mines and kept it until the oil was used up, about 3 months later.)
Peel bananas and place in lightly salted water (halving them lengthwise and using gloves makes job easier, green bananas leave a sticky sap).
Grate on smallest opening of food processor or cheese grater.
In bowl, combine grated bananas and 1/2 cup achiote oil and mix thoroughly.
Seasoning lightly with salt.
Scoop into little balls and drop into salted boiling water until the dumpling float.
Once the dumplings float, remove from salted water and fold into the pastele stew.
Optional: Store in heavy ziploc bag in refrigerator, and use within 1-2 days, or freeze until needed.
In very large pot or dutch oven, heat 6 tablespoons of achiote oil over medium heat.
Add onions, garlic, cumin, salt, bay leaves, cilantro and pork.
Cook 10 minutes, occasionally stirring until onions have softened but not browned.
Add tomato sauce, olives and their liquid, and 4 cups water.
Lower heat to a simmer and cook 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Add masa and remaining water.
Taste and re-season if necessary.
Simmer 1 hour, stirring and checking from time to time to avoid scorching.
The stew will thicken nicely, but if it gets too thick, add a little water to thin it to your liking.
Season with freshly ground pepper.
Serve over steaming white rice and garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Note: I've also served this with a side of fried bread and bacalao salad (I will post these recipes later.) which was just as hearty and very lovely on the palate.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Main Dishes, Pork
Hashtags: #stew, #Ethnic, #Puerto, #Rican

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jowell atiz kamlee808
Mar 20, 2014
Just tried this recipe and loved it!!! The masa balls were hard to keep together but it turned out really good. Pork belly, tomato and onions paired perfectly.
Keauhou Mitchell keauhou
Oct 31, 2013
My dumplings fell apart :( what am I doing wrong?
Desiree Cruz Hilopaliku
Jun 6, 2013
I made this Pastele stew for my family and they LOVED it. In Hawai`i, green Chinese bananas are the preferred choice vs plantains which are uncommon. Luckily we have lots of bananas all over my neighborhood. Anyways, it was easy to make and delish!
Neill, jr Schoening jrboy
Jan 11, 2013
Much Mahalo for your reply Laura,
Yes , I can't wait to cook this for my ohana.
Get well soon, Hau'oli makahikihou
Laura Manuel-Arrighi NikiArri
Jan 7, 2013
Aloha jrboy!

Oh yes I do brown the pork! However, I "fry" the spices briefly in the achiote oil. This brings out the flavors of the spices. Something I learned while making Indian food, which I love. It's after the spices that I brown the pork.

I did not include this little tidbit in the recipe as I wanted to keep to the original recipe as much as possible. To me, frying herbs and spices intensifies the flavors therefore, keeping re-seasoning to a minimum.

I thank you for your inquiry and hope my explanation helps. Please forgive the late response as I have been ill and could not access the internet. Again, thank you so much and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Aloha ~ Laura