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Pastelitos Andinos with Potato and Queso Fresco

Pastelitos Andinos with Potato and Queso Fresco

Pastelitos andinos are hot pockets of crunchy fried dough.

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 |

Dough

  • 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

Filling

  • 2 cups plain potato purée
  • 1 lb queso fresco, shredded
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Garlic-Cilantro Sauce

  • 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.

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Gaby is a private chef, culinary instructor, school lunch activist and contributing columnist for Feast’s Healthy Appetite. She’s eager to use sustainable local food as a vehicle for sharing people’s stories and cultures.

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