Post by Alison Hein.
Last night we had friends over for a Puerto Rican feast – salty fried codfish fritters (bacalaiítos), spicy pastelillos de carne (meat turnovers), smoky black beans with chorizo (habichuelas negras con chorizo) and slow-cooked garlicky pork shoulder (pernil). Island flavors are a shockingly addictive blend of Spanish, African, Taino and Arawak products and seasonings. If you’re not familiar with this cuisine, I strongly recommend you get out there for a little taste of “Cocina Criolla”.
This morning, I found just the right ingredients for some Latin-flavored breakfast pastelillos, or spicy Puerto Rican half-moon shaped turnovers. I fried up some chorizo, then stirred in a bit of frothy green recaito, a mix of fresh pungent herbs, garlic, peppers and onions. Some eggs and a few more seasonings, and I was ready to fill and bake my pastelillos.
Thirty minutes later, we were savoring the steamy flavors of Cocina Criolla and a little taste of la Isla del Encanto.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 fresh chorizo sausage
2 tablespoons diced tomatoes, with juice (canned tomatoes work well)
2 tablespoons recaíto* (http://mixerupper.com/2012/08/17/recaito/)
2 tablespoons sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon milk or cream
8 pastelillo or empanada wrappers (or use puff pastry, rolled out ¼ inch thick, cut into 8 5-inch diameter circles)
Preheat oven to 375°.
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in heavy pan over medium heat. Remove sausage casing from chorizo, and break into small pieces. Add chorizo to heated pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned. Stir in diced tomatoes and recaíto. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, allowing flavors to meld. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Heat remaining olive oil in small, heavy pan over medium low heat. Break 3 eggs into small bowl and whisk well with milk or cream. Add eggs to heated pan and allow to cook slowly and gently. Stir frequently with wooden spoon to avoid sticking. Remove eggs from heat when still a little soft. Stir into chorizo mixture.
Lay pastelillo wrappers out on flat surface, and place about 1½ tablespoons of chorizo-egg mixture in the center of each circle. Beat remaining egg, and brush around eggs of each wrapper. Fold each circle in half to form a half-moon shape, gently pressing edges together. Seal edges of each pastelillo by gently folding dough over in ¼-inch increments, or sealing with the tines of a fork. Place filled pastelillos on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes, until dough is golden and crispy. Serve fresh from the oven with a little hot sauce on the side, if you like.
Makes 8 pastelillos.
* If you can’t find the ingredients to make recaíto, substitute with: 1 minced garlic clove; 2 teaspoons finely chopped cilantro; 2 teaspoons finely diced yellow onion; and 2 teaspoons finely diced Cubanelle, Bell or Chili pepper.