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Pasteles, tamales, humitas

1/2 cup lard or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon annatto seeds
11/2 pounds lean pork, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 pound fatback or 4-5 bacon strips, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
2-3 small sweet green peppers (ajies dulces), seeded and chopped (optional)
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 leaves fresh culantro (or cilantrillo, or both), coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 16-ounce can chickpeas (reserve the liquid)
1/3 cup pitted green olives, sliced into thin rounds, with 1 tablespoon liquid
1 tablespoon capers (optional)

2 large green plantains
2-3 green bananas
2 pounds yautia (taro root, malanga, dasheen)
1 cup broth reserved from cooking the filling
1 tablespoon salt

1-pound package frozen or fresh banana leaves cut into 12-inch
squares, spines removed
20 sheets of parchment paper 12" x 18" (If banana leaves are not
available, parchment paper may be used for entire wrapping)
String or butcher's twine

To make the filling, add oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the annatto seeds and heat for one minute to release their
orange color. Remove from heat and drain the oil into a separate
container. Discard the seeds and return half of the oil to the
skillet. Return the oil to medium-high heat and add the pork and
bacon. Brown for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the
garlic, onion, bell pepper, small green peppers, tomatoes, culantro,
and oregano, and saute for another 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas
and olives (with their respective liquids) and the capers. Cover
and simmer over low-medium heat for 40 minutes. When done, uncover
and allow to cool. Drain the broth into a separate container and
set aside.

Make the dough by peeling the plantains and the bananas, first
cutting off the ends and running a knife tip lengthwise along one
or more of the ridges. Insert and run a thumb just beneath the cut
peel to lift and remove it. Peel the yautia. Place plantains,
bananas, and yautia into a large bowl of salted cold water to
prevent discoloring. You can grate them using the fine side of a
hand grater, or instead, cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces for the
processor. Fill 1/3 to 1/2 of the food processor or blender container
with the cut vegetables, slowly adding broth to form a smooth,
porridgelike mash. It should not be runny. Transfer the pure to a
large bowl. If you run out of broth, substitute water as needed.
Stir in the salt and the remaining annatto oil.

Place a banana leaf on a sheet of parchment. Drop a scant 1/2 cup
of the dough onto the center of the leaf and spread it several
inches all around with the back of a spoon. Drop 2 tablespoons of
the filling a bit off center. Fold each long side and then the ends
toward the center. Slide the encased leaf toward the long edge of
the parchment and wrap again. Fold end flaps over. Tie two pasteles
together, with folded edges facing each other.

To cook, put a batch (4 to 6 tied bundles) into a large kettle of
salted boiling water and cook semicovered at medium-high heat for
30 minutes. Turn the bundles over and cook 40 minutes more. When
done, drain them well, remove the strings and wrappings, and serve
hot. Makes 16-20 pasteles.


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