- Written by Cynthia Presser
This is a very popular appetizer in Brazil and the possibilities for fillings are endless! Besides the hearts-of-palm, my favorites are the classics: mozzarella cheese with herbs, shrimp with Catupiry, and ground beef with black olives. But you can use your creativity and experiment!
Makes about 12 units (about 5x3-inch each)
Ingredients for the dough:
- 2 cups flour, plus more for the working surface
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons vodka, tequila, or cachaça
- ¾ cup warm water
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar salt, vegetable oil and liquor until all incorporated. Add the water slowly, ¼ cup at a time, while mixing with your hands.
Work the dough until it becomes a smooth ball and it is not sticking to your hands and fingers anymore. On a clean working surface, knead the dough for a few minutes, until very smooth. Transfer it back to the bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the working surface with flour and spread the dough as wide as possible with your hands. Sprinkle a little bit more flour over it and, using a rolling pin, spread it as wide as possible until it is really thin.
With the help of a cutter, make rectangles of about 5x3-inches. Put 1 tablespoon of filling right in the center of the rectangle and fold it over, closing it tightly with your fingers. The shape should be of a half-moon. Sprinkle a little bit of flour over the border of each pastel and press it all around with a fork, making sure the filling is well sealed inside. With the help of a cutter, trim any irregular pieces around the border. Repeat the process until all the rectangles of dough are filled, placing each pastel in a large plate sprinkled with flour.
Shape the dough leftovers into a ball again and knead until smooth. Open with the roller pin and repeat the process until all ingredients are over. You should end up with about 10 to 15 units, depending on how small you are making them.
Deep -fry two or three pastries at a time in hot oil (375 degrees F,) turning them once; or use an electric fryer. When the surface turns golden brown they are ready. Carefully remove each pastel with a skimmer and arrange them on a plate covered with paper towel. Serve it immediately.
Ingredients for the filling:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large tomatos, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 2 cans (14 oz) hearts-of-palm, drained and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup Mascarpone cheese (or Catupiry, if available)
In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions and cook on medium high heat stirring occasionally until translucent, 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until tender, 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and fold in the hearts-of-palm, scallions, and parsley.
Place one tablespoon of the filling on the center of the dough and top it with 1 tablespoon of mascarpone. Close it tightly following the directions given above.
This is a very popular dish in Brazil and the possibilities for fillings are endless! Besides the hearts-of-palm, my favorites are mozzarella cheese with herbs, shrimp with Catupiry, and ground beef with black olives. But you can use your creativity and experiment!
The size I proposed in this recipe is for appetizer, but in Brazil this pastry is also made in a much bigger size and it is a very popular kind of fast-food. I love it in all ways!!!
Some people might want a dipping sauce for this appetizer. I think a great dip to go with Pastel is sour cream mixed with chives. Enjoy it with a cold beer (but I still want to have my Pastel with wine!)
Do not be intimidated by the dough process. It seems difficult, but it is not! Just follow the instructions and you will be able to make this delicious pastry dough! It is kind of time consuming and it must be precise, but it is not difficult.
The liquor that is added to the dough is the ingredient responsible for the bubbles that form on the surface of the Pastel. It also makes it extra crunchy!