Daisy Martinez’s Favorite Holiday Recipe
“When I was a little girl, and before I could read a calendar, I knew precisely how close it was to Christmas by when my Mami and Papi got us together to make pasteles. It was a family affair with everyone from my Abuela and Mami, preparing the pork filling and the stock to flavor the vianda masa, Papi peeling the root vegetables, green bananas, and calabaza, and all the kids working the viandas on box graters — I can tell you that you become adept very quickly, at the expense of a few scraped knuckles! Once all the viandas were grated and the masa was seasoned, Mami would wrap the pasteles in banana leaf and parchment, and Papi would tie the pasteles in packets of two, called “lluntas,” until they were stacked high. It was an all-day affair! Mami would freeze call of the pasteles with the exception of the ones we would be eating for Christmas Eve dinner, and once I smelled the fragrance of simmering pasteles, and the aroma of a steamy pot of Arroz con Guandules, I knew Santa Clause and his eight tiny reindeer were not far from my home!”
- 1/2 cup Achiote Oil
- 1 cup Sofrito
- 3 tablespoons alcaparrado or coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
- 3 tablespoons fine sea or kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 pounds smoked pork neck bones or smoked turkey wings or one smoked ham hock
- One 13-ounce bag frozen pigeon peas or one 15-ounce can pigeon peas, drained
- 6 cups long grain rice
- Beef Broth, homemade or store-bought and/or water as needed (about 8 cups)
- 1 banana leaf, optional
How to make it
Heat the achiote oil in a heavy 5-quart pot or Dutch oven over high heat until rippling. Stir in the sofrito, alcaparrada or olives, salt, pepper and cumin. Cook until the sofrito stops boiling and starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes.
Add the pork bones and stir until they’re coated with oil, then stir in the rice until everything is mixed together and the rice is coated with oil. Stir in the pigeon peas, then pour in enough broth and/or water to cover the rice by the width of two fingers. Top with the banana leaf, folding it up as necessary to fit over the rice. Bring to a boil and boil without stirring until the level of liquid meets the rice. Take the banana leaf off, give the rice a big, healthy stir and put the leaf back on top. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the banana leaf, give the rice a big stir and fluff it with a fork. Serve hot.
Makes 10 to 15 servings, as part of a larger meal.
Daisy Martinez is the host of Food Network‘s Viva Daisy!