"If you need a recipe, you don’t know how to cook." My grandmother expressed this belief to everyone who asked her for a recipe for one of her traditional Puerto Rican meals. She was not one of those people who hoarded recipes so they would stay in the family. Her own daughters weren’t given insight into her kitchen habits. I never was given the opportunity to ask my Abuela why she didn’t share her recipes, but I kind of feel like she was waiting for someone to figure out her recipes on their own and prove to her that they did know how to cook.
A very special friend of mine taught me Spanish and how to cook the elusive meals of my childhood Sundays at my grandmother’s house. This recipe for pastelillos is wonderfully close to the way my Abuela made them. It does mean some deep frying, but it is definitely time to take a break from that New Years resolution to enjoy some good fried Puerto Rican cooking.
1 can of corned beef
1 eight oz. can of tomato sauce
1 packet sazon
2 tablespoons recaito
2 packages of frozen Goya Discos — empanada dough
Confused at where to find all of these ingredients? Visit the Goya section of the grocery store. There is almost always a section in dry goods and a section in the frozen food section.
Empty the can of corned beef into a frying pan. Add the can of tomato sauce, packet of sazon, and the two tablespoons of recaito. Chop up the corned beef with a spatula. Cook on medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the corned beef had all broken up and the mixture has thickened.
Let mixture cool. Thaw the frozen discs. Place about a tablespoon of the mixture into each piece of dough. Crimp the edges with a fork or pinch together. Heat the oil on medium heat till it starts to make noise or until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into the oil.. Fry the meat packets till golden brown. Drain on a paper towel.