Pastelillos – Puerto Rican Dish – Mother’s Recipe

My mother is of Puerto Rican heritage. This assignment was a great excuse to Skype her, and ask her to cook one of my favorite dishes. I asked her to cook 4 pastelillos in front of the computer camera, relaying directions simultaneously. I wrote down her directions as best I could (my mom talks really quickly and is very impatient). Please see below:

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of recaito
    • a sauce that includes cilantro, garlic, green pepper, and onion
  • hot sauce
  • 4 large goya discos (dough that is used for the shell)
  • raisins (not normally put in pastelillos, but my mom’s special touch)
  • cheese (cheddar or pepper jack).
  • Directions for cooking:
    • 1. Shape the Goya Discos into small pockets if they are not pre-shaped. There should be enough space for 1/4 pound of ground beef and a few other ingredients to fit at the same time.
    • 2. Heat pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil until you hear it “Sizzle”
    • 3. Place all of the ground beef into the frying pan. Slowly stir until it is fully browned.
    • 4. While the meat is cooking, place the goya discos on a cooking sheet, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. They come pre-cooked, so they will only need a few minutes in the over. Insert the goya discos into the oven and allow them several minutes to become crispy.
      • My mom said the primary purpose of this stage is to make the goya discos crispy.
  • 5. Remove the goya discos when they have become sufficiently browned.
  • 6. Fill the crispy goya discos with ½ tablespoon of recaito, 1 teaspoon of hot sauce, 10 raisins, and a pinch of cheese.
  • 7. Remove the browned beef from the frying pan, and add ¼ pound to each goya disco.
  • Enjoy delicious pastelillos.

Cultural notes: depending on the part of Puerto Rico you are from, raisins may or may not be added to the pastelillo. My mom thinks it has to do with which side of the island (east vs. west) that you hail from. In her opinion, the Puerto Ricans on the eastern side use raisins, and the people on the western side do not. The is be simply rumor, but it is an interesting example of Puerto Rican Folklore.