Stuffed Cornmeal Balls
In Puerto Rican cuisine there is a popular dish known as pastelitos, or meat pies, which entails the use of plantain leaves. A portion of cornmeal and meat filling is place on a leaf, which is then folded to give the meat pie its shape. Lastly, the meat is carefully removed from the plantain leaf and then deep-fried, hopefully retaining its form.
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- 1 Cup water
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter or margarine
- 2 Cups yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 Cup flour
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 1 packet sazón accent, or sazón goya*
- 1 Cup lean ground beef, about 3/4 pound
- 2 Tablespoons tomato sauce
- Vegetable oil, for frying
Boil the water in a small saucepan and add the salt and butter. Combine the cornmeal and flour in a bowl. Add the boiling water, mixing well to form a soft dough. Set aside and let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet or cast iron pan. Add sazón and ground beef. Sauté over medium heat until meat loses its color. Stir in the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Using a serving spoon (or a big rice spoon), scoop out a handful of the cornmeal mix. Smooth out the mixture so that it's level with the spoon. Place a teaspoon of beef filling atop the cornmeal. Cover the filling with another tablespoon filled level with the cornmeal mix and shape the whole cornmeal ball into an oval. Keep the spoons slightly wet while doing this. Some cooks prefer to shape the cornmeal balls by hand. Use whatever technique works for you.
Deep-fry in hot oil until golden.