From the Kitchen: Let’s Make Pastelillos
These are flaky, fried Puerto Rican empanadas—done vegan.
I grew up on pastelillos de carne, though that’s not what we called them. I don’t know what we called them at first, because I was a baby, but eventually they became empanadas—a catch-all term for savory Latin turnovers. When I started visiting Puerto Rico and specifically the kiosks of Piñones, though, I realized they were pastelillos, though some also call them empanadillas: flaky fried dough filled with, usually, spiced beef, chicken, or crab. My mom always made them with beef and stuffed Spanish olives. I loved the bites with olive most, even when I was just a toddler. I was born for salt.
My mom learned how to make them from my uncle’s then-wife (if I’ve got the story straight), and she used all Goya products. When I went vegan and wanted to have the flavor but was also learning how food could be made, I looked online and made the dough from scratch based on this one from The Noshery (still #1 on Google), with olive oil, and filled it with kidney beans spiced the same way the meat would’ve been. I still used Goya adobo and sazón, though I made (and still make!) a fresh sofrito.
Now I wanted to use jackfruit, as there’s a fisherman at the farmers’ market selling local yaca vacuum-sealed and already butchered. I realized I also had a local butternut squash kicking around, and over the weekend had eaten the pastelillos de calabaza (pumpkin) at Cocina al Fondo, a perfect bite by chef Natalia Vallejo. And so, two variations, done quite similarly.
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