Recipe: Pastelitos de Carne y Queso | Venezuelan Savory Beef and Cheese Pastelitos
So ... what is a pastelito? I deliberately left the pastelito word on the English part of the title of this recipe as in Spanish. Pastelitos, for me, don't have a real English translation,...

So ... what is a pastelito? I deliberately left the pastelito word on the English part of the title of this recipe as in Spanish. Pastelitos, for me, don't have a real English translation, kinda like Arepas or empanadas. However, I can give you some examples of other food products around the world that are SIMILAR to pastelitos, but definitely not the same. The main differences are the filling and the ingredients of the dough.

Some examples that could be similar to pastelitos are Greek Bougatsas; Aloo Pies in Trinidad and Tobago; Bridies and Cornish Pasty in the UK; Curry puffs in Southeast Asia; Knish in Eastern Europe; a Öçpoçmaq in Russia; Panzarottis in Italy; Paste in Mexico; Pastel in Brazil; Maltese pastizzis; Hot Pâté in Vietnam; Pithiviers in France; Samosas in the Indian subcontinent; slippers, warm pockets or a very small portable pot pie here in the United States.

Pastelitos are definitely a staple from my childhood in Venezuela. The recipe for pastelitos is a bit more complex than empanadas, so they're usually not home-cooked… unless you're lucky enough to have an avid baker at home.

One of those times that I would appreciate pastelitos would be at school. As I have mentioned in other posts, my mom was a super mom who served homemade breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. As a result, I rarely ate large school meals in my lunch box. Most of the time I had healthy drinks and snacks, as well as a few chucherías sometimes. When I was older and received cash gifts or money to do the housework, I bought snacks in the school Cantina. I attended three different schools in Venezuela, and I still remember the three different canteens in each.

The cantina escolar, was the school cafeteria. However, unlike in the United States, the cantina was generally run independently by someone else as a business within the school, and not by the school itself. Usually it was a parent of someone else who worked at the school, or even a parent. The cantina usually offered a wide variety of selections, from chucherías to small snacks like pastelitos, empanadas, tequeños, or even a full meal like a Pabellón Criollo. They also had a variety of drinks including hookah, malt, fresh fruit juice, papelon con limonand sodas. It was basically like a small food kiosk or a small restaurant inside the school. In some schools I only had one recreo (recess), but in others the day was divided into two recess periods. Anyway, the canteens were usually packed during recess so I hardly ever wanted to buy anything. First, I always had a hearty breakfast and lunch at home, plus I brought my own lunchbox, so I didn't have to buy anything in the cantina. Second, buying something in the cantina could mean spending half of your recess time in line. However, on PT days when we burned a ton of calories working out, I would always buy something in the cantina after PT class, when there was no line. The most common combo in the canteen I bought was a empanada and a malt; a tequeño and a malt; or a pastelito and a malt. Obviously, I love Malta.

Another time I remember eating and enjoying pastels was on random trips downtown with my mom. My mother was always shopping in el centro, or downtown. One of my favorite errands to do with my mom was right before school started and we had to go shopping for school supplies. It was quite an adventure as a child. We took taxis, buses, metro and we walked a lot too. Going from bookstore to bookstore to find all the school supplies I needed. Most of the time we would still be shopping at lunchtime so we had to eat somewhere before continuing with our shopping. Sometimes we would meet in a Panadería. Panaderías in Venezuela, it's like eating at Disneyland for a child. The Panaderías are small food establishments where you can find bread, in all shapes and forms; coffee; sweets; Cakes; sandwiches; pastelitos; empanadas; tequeños; meal; grocery; etc. It's like the adult version of the cantina escolar. It's like a bakery, but with a ton more options than bread.

Canteens and panaderías serve these Venezuelan pastelitos. Venezuelans eat pastelitos for breakfast, lunch, dinner, as a snack or as pasapalos (appetizers / appetizers) at parties. Pastelitos can take many shapes and have many fillings. They can be round, square, moon shaped, triangles, rectangles, etc. They can be filled with sweet or savory toppings. The most popular toppings are ground beef, cheese, and chicken. However, you can find many different fillings in different parts of Venezuela. For example, in the Andes you can find the most common as well as trout, chickpeas, rice, eggs and even cheese with guava jelly or guava paste. For this recipe, I am focusing on the salty (salty) type of pastelitos. Pastelitos can be fried or baked. This recipe works for both.

Note: This recipe is supposed to make 50 pastelitos, but I think it will depend on the shape and size of your pastelitos.

Ingredients for Venezuelan pastelitos

What do you need:
- 4 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon of salt
- 3 tablespoons of butter (room temperature)
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- ¾ cup of water
- Frying oil
- Paper napkins

Fillings: as mentioned above the toppings can vary, but for this recipe I am using cooked ground beef and Mexican Queso Panela, which was closest to Venezuelan Queso Blanco. The cheese should be a hard or semi-hard white cheese, good for grating, and it should also be a little salty.

1. Sift the flour. If you don't have a real sieve you can use a mesh sieve like I did.

Venezuelan pastelitos

2. On a large, clean, flat surface, combine the flour and salt. Mix well. Then create an opening in the center of the flour and add the butter, eggs and sugar.

Mix the ingredients

3. Start mixing all the ingredients with your fingertips. Gradually add water as you mix. Mix until the dough is uniform, moist and soft. The dough should not stick to the table or your fingers when baked.

4. Cover with plastic or store in a ziplock bag and let sit for an hour.

5. Again, on a large, clean flat surface, sprinkle some flour and start rolling out the dough with a rolling pin. You must spread the dough very thin but without breaking it. Just under a quarter of an inch.

From this step forward, I will explain the fried and
separately cooked process

Pastelitos Fritos | Fried pastelitos

6. You can begin to assemble the pastelitos. You can do it, but it's the easiest for you. One way is to cut the dough with a knife into two equal parts; on one side, add small portions of filling, separating each about two inches; then add the rest of the dough on top and use a small round pan or cup to cut each section. This way seems faster. My sister and I opted for a different strategy. First, cut out the circles as much as you can, but make sure it's an even number. We used a drinking glass about 3-4 inches in diameter. Take half of the circles and these will be your stockings.

7. Place all the bottoms in rows and with a little water moisten the central area where the filling will go. Add the filling, or different toppings, in the center of each bottom. You can be a little more generous with the cheese, as it will melt when baked and it will appear to have less filling than beef cheese.

8. With a little water, moisten the edge of the bottom dough to help it seal with the top. Place all the rest of the circles, the tops, on each bottom with the filling. Using a fork, press all around the edge to seal and decorate each pastelito. Additionally, glue the fork on top of the pastelito so that air can escape while frying. It also serves as a decoration, or you can use different markings for different fillings, so that they are easier to distinguish. For example, you can make 2 holes for the beef and 4 for the cheese.

9. With enough oil to cover the pastelitos, fry them until golden brown.

10. Remove the pastels from the oil and place them on paper towels to remove excess oil.

11. Serve with optional guasacaca, salsa verdeor your favorite mojo sauces. Sauces are generally served with beef or chicken pastels. Enjoy with a Malta, of course.

Pastelitos Horneados | Pastelitos in the oven

6. Preheat your oven to 350 ° F.

7. You can follow the same procedure as step 6 for fried pastels. Or you can try a different shape and technique, like we did. First, cut a circle larger than the one used for the fried pastels, about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Cut as much of the whole dough as you can.

8. Wet only half of each circle where the filling will go, then add filling to only one side of each circle. Then you will fold the circle in half (much like the empanadas). Use a fork to press all the way around the border to seal and decorate each pastelito. This will give you a semicircle or moon shape for each pastelito.

9. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or parchment paper. If you do not have one, you can grease it with butter and add flour so that the pastels do not stick. Then add the pastels on the baking sheet. Brush each pastelito with a little egg yolk.

10. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 ° F.

11. Serve with optional guasacaca, salsa verdeor your favorite mojo sauces. Sauces are generally served with beef or chicken pastels. Enjoy with a Malta, of course.

¡Buen Provecho!

Whether you regularly whip up Michelin-worthy meals at the drop of a hat or your cooking skills are best described as “fine, ” you can always benefit from the helpful little tricks of others. Here, 14 of our friends’, families’ and coworkers’ most-used cooking tips.

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You know the difference between a paring knife and a fillet knife, but do you know how to take care of them ? Or, more importantly, how to use them ? A set of good knives can be the difference between a stressful cooking experience and a great one. First, practice your knife skills. Look up tutorials on YouTube and practice chopping, slicing and julienne-ing. It’s amazing what you can do with your cook time when your prep time is shortened with solid knife skills. Then, once you’ve got your skills down pat, learn how to take care of your set. No one ever achieved kitchen greatness with a dull chef’s knife.

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