Winter evokes nostalgia for the mountainous region of Venezuela where I grew up, so I recreate the flavors from there as often as I can. Pastelitos andinos are hot pockets of crunchy fried dough balanced by smooth, savory filling, and I have vivid memories of enjoying them with café con leche as a child. This version features potato, green onion and queso fresco, plus a drizzle of garlic-cilantro sauce. Paired with a cup of creamy coffee, they’re sublime.
Pastelitos Andinos with Potato and Queso Fresco
Yields | 12 pastelitos andinos |
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 cup water
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- 2 cups plain potato purée
- 1 lb queso fresco, shredded
- 4 green onions, sliced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 habanero pepper, trimmed and seeded, optional
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, stems and leaves
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 tsp salt
| Preparation – Dough | In the bowl of a stand mixer, add all ingredients; mix with your hands until a shaggy dough forms. Using the dough hook, knead dough until it’s smooth and elastic, approximately 10 minutes. Transfer dough to a clean bowl dusted with flour; loosely cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap and let rest, at least 30 minutes.
| Preparation – Filling | In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients. Set aside.
| Preparation – Sauce | In a blender or a food processor, add all ingredients; blend until a smooth sauce has formed. Transfer to a small serving bowl; set aside.
| Preparation – Assembly | Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Cut dough into four equal parts. Flatten each piece into a narrow rectangle; using a rolling pin, roll out lengthwise into ¹⁄₈-inch-thick sheets. Alternatively, you can use a pasta maker to make four ¹⁄₈-inch-thick sheets.
Working with one sheet at a time, add a 2-tablespoon mound of filling 1 inch from the short edge; add another mound 1 inch from the first and so on until you reach the opposite end of the sheet. Top with another sheet; using your fingertips, press the dough to create a seal around each mound, trying to leave as little air in each pocket as possible. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out pastelitos. Using a fork, press the edges of each to seal securely. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling (you may end up with enough for more than 12 pastelitos).
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 cups vegetable oil. Once oil is hot, add three to four pastelitos (be careful to not overcrowd pot); fry until dough is golden brown. Transfer pastelitos to a bowl lined with paper towels. Repeat process until all pastelitos are fried. Serve hot with garlic-cilantro sauce.