This chicken Pasteles en Hoja recipe is a variation of traditional beef-based Pasteles. They are just as easy to make, packed with authentic Dominican flavors, and can take even less time!
What Are Pasteles En Hoja?
You may have come across my Pasteles En Hoja recipe before. Now, you may be confused because that recipe is made with beef, not chicken. So, what exactly is this recipe then?
Well, as I’ve mentioned in the previous article, traditional Pasteles en Hoja is made with a beef-based filling. However, you will also find many households use pork and chicken.
Today, I will show you the variation that I love most! It is just as easy as the beef recipe and just as flavorful! The process remains almost exactly the same. But in my opinion, the filling is even easier to make!
So, to recap, Pasteles en Hoja is a traditional snack for the holiday season from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. They are basically cousins to Mexican Tamales. However, pasteles are boiled and not steamed.
What You Need To Make Chicken Pasteles En Hoja
There are basically three elements to this dish. The first is the plantain leaves. The second is the masa dough. And the third is the chicken filling.
Unlike my beef picadillo recipe, this chicken filling is much quicker to make. It is still heavily spiced to create an uber-rich flavor profile.
You can make today’s chicken filling using raw or precooked leftover chicken.
The chicken filling, as with all of my recipes, is very adjustable, and you can adapt the flavors to your liking. However, I highly recommend trying my recipe as-is initially. It’s really good and one that has been passed down through many generations.
Next, we have the plantain masa dough. It is extremely easy to make and I have multiple recipes on my site. For this recipe, I will use the same dough as for the beef-based Pasteles en Hoja recipe. This way, you can make a large batch and premake different flavors of pasteles at once.
And finally, the plantain leaves. These are traditionally used. But, they can be challenging to find in some parts of the world.
Do not use corn husks or parchment paper. They will affect how the Chicken Pasteles en Hoja cooks. Trust me, you will be able to find plantain or banana leaves at an African, Asian, or Latin American grocer or market.
How To Make Pasteles En Hoja
First, prepare the chicken filling and let it cool down while you prepare the dough. Then combine the grated plantains, cocoyam, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl. Then add all the seasoning and mix it well together.
Place the plantain squares in a line on a flat, clean workspace. Add about 2 tablespoons of the plantain masa dough to the center of the leaf. Spread it so it forms a slight square and leaves a thin border.
Then, add about 2 tablespoons of your cooled chicken filling.
Use one end of the plantain leaf to fold over the masa filling. It should cover the chicken filling. You may need to add a bit more masa to help the chicken filling enclose.
Fold in the sides to an envelope and secure the plantain leaf with butcher’s twine.
Once the water is boiling, add the Pasteles and allow them to boil for 30-40 minutes.
How do you know if your Pasteles en Hoja are cooked?
Follow the cooking times I’ve laid out. But, if you open them, you can see if the plantain masa dough is firm (not still raw) and if the pocket holds its shape. You’ve already cooked the chicken, so you don’t have to wait for a specific internal temperature.
How long do you cook frozen chicken Pasteles en Hoja?
The frozen pockets should cook for an extra 15 minutes (at least). For these, you can test the inside to see if it is heated through. But again, there isn’t a specific internal temperature. The filling should just be thawed and heated.
Why are my Pasteles mushy?
It’s likely because the dough got wet and you didn’t wrap the leaves properly. It could also be that your sauce (for the chicken filling) is too watery and wasn’t reduced for long enough. The plantain masa dough won’t necessarily be the issue because we aren’t making it with liquids.
More Delicious Recipes
Chicken Pasteles En Hoja – Easy Dominican Festive Snacks
For the chicken filling
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 4 medium chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes (to taste)
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Adobo
- 2 1/2 Tbsp sofrito mix
- 1 pack Sazon Seasoning
- 1 1/2 cups tomato puree
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
- 1 tsp freshly chopped oregano
For the plantain masa dough
- 2 large green plantains, peeled, finely grated
- 1 pound white cocoyam, peeled, finely grated
- 1 pound pumpkin, peeled, finely grated
- 2 tbsp sofrito mix
- 1 tbsp annatto/achiote powder
- 1 tsp adobo seasoning
- 1 Onion, diced
- Plantain or banana leaves
- Red chili, sliced, optional
Cook and shred the chicken
- Preheat your oven to 360ºF (180ºC). Line a roasting tray with foil.
- Season the chicken breasts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, sazon seasoning ,adobo, 1 tbsp of sofrito mix, and pepper. Make sure they are covered well.
- Leave the chicken breasts to bake for about 25-30 minutes or until they are done.
- Once the chicken breasts are finished roasting, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes.
- Then, start shredding the chicken breasts using two forks. Pull it apart until it has a medium-fine texture.
- Once you are finished, set the pulled chicken aside.
Make the pulled chicken filling
- To start, heat the remaining olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the diced onion and leave it to saute for 5 minutes or until it becomes translucent.
- Finally, add the tomato puree along with the freshly chopped herbs.
- Give the ingredients a good stir and bring the sauce to a boil.
- Once it boils, lower the heat so the sauce simmers. Add the pulled chicken pieces and the 1½ Tbsp of sofrito mix. Mix them in very well so they are covered with sauce.
- Allow the sauce and chicken to cook for 10 minutes.
- Once they are completely cooked, remove them from the heat and allow them to cool at room temperature.
Prepare the plantain masa and banana leaves
- To start, combine the grated plantains, cocoyam, and pumpkin in a large mixing bowl.
- Then, add the sofrito, annatto powder, and adobo seasoning. Mix these ingredients together very well to form your seasoned plantain masa dough.
- Next, prepare the plantain leaves. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Place a large bowl with ice water next to it.
- While the water is coming to a boil, cut the plantain leaves into 6-inch square pieces.
- When the water is boiling, plunge the plantain squares into the water. Leave them to cool for 30-60 seconds, or until they start becoming pliable.
- Once blanched, remove them from the hot water and plunge them into the ice water. This will stop them from cooking.
- Allow the plantain squares to cool completely.
- Remove them from the water and let them dry.
Assemble the chicken Pasteles en Hoja
- Place the plantain squares in a line on a flat, clean workspace.
- Add about 2 tablespoons of the plantain masa dough to the center of the leaf. Spread it so it forms a slight square. Make sure you leave a 1-inch border.
- You can top the masa with sliced chili if you'd like.
- Then, add about 2 tablespoons of your cooled chicken filling.
- Use one end of the plantain leaf to fold over the masa filling. It should cover the chicken filling. You may need to add a bit more masa to help the chicken filling enclose.
- Fold the leaf over to make an enclosed envelope. Fold in the sides and secure the plantain leaf with butcher's twine.
- Repeat this step with all of the pockets.
Cook the chicken Pasteles
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Once it's boiling, add the Pasteles and allow them to boil for 30-40 minutes.
- Once cooked, unwrap the pockets and serve them with a sauce or accompaniment.