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  • Arlene

How To Make Trini Chicken Pastelles

It’s not a Trinbagonian Christmas without some Pastelles hiding somewhere in the freezer:


Ground Chicken – 1 lb

Lime Juice - 2 tbsp

Chive – 1/3 cup (finely chopped)

Pimento - 2 tbsp (finely chopped)

Garlic - 2 tbsp (divided + finely chopped)

Crushed Pepper - ½ tsp

Ground Paprika – ¼ tsp

Mustard - ½ tbsp

Pepper Sauce - 1 tsp

Aromatic Bitters - 4 dashes

Ketchup – ¼ cup

BBQ Sauce – ¼ cup

Black Pepper - ¼ tsp

Salt - ½ tsp

Fine Thyme - 6 sprigs (divided)

Vegetable Oil - 2 tbsp + ½ cup

Parsley – ¼ cup (finely chopped)

Hot Water - 1 ½ cup

Unsalted Butter - ¾ cup

Corn Meal - 1 ½ cup

Golden Raisins/Raisins/Craisins - ½ cup

Pimento Stuffed Olives - 15 – 20 (sliced)

Banana leaves – 15 (cut into approx. 9inch pieces – frozen overnight and thawed before preparing


Foil Sheets – 15 (12” X 12”)


Seasoning of the Chicken:

 In a medium bowl add chicken, lime juice, chive, pimento, 2 tbsp garlic, crushed pepper, paprika, mustard, pepper sauce, bitters, ketchup, BBQ sauce, black pepper, salt and 3 sprigs thyme – mix thoroughly and let rest for a few hours or over night

 In a medium pan over medium heat, heat vegetable oil.

 Once heated, add 3 sprigs of thyme and 1 tbsp garlic.

 Allow to sauté for about 2 mins.

 Stir in chicken and allow to cook for 15 mins stirring every 2 mins.

 Turn off the heat, remove thyme stems and stir in parsley.

 Set aside.

Prepare the Dough:

 In a medium bowl mix hot water and butter until butter is completely melted.

 Add corn meal a little at a time stirring each time until a soft smooth dough is formed.

 Prepare a baking sheet by greasing lightly with vegetable oil.

 Using a ¼ measuring cup, portion dough, form into balls and cover with a damp cloth.

Constructing the Pastelles:

 Using a pastelle press, cover the top side with a plastic bag.

 Grease the plastic cover lightly with vegetable oil.

 Place banana leaf on the base of the press.

 Dip one side of the corn meal ball in vegetable oil and place oiled side down on the banana leaf about 2 inches away from the hinged edge of the press (not the exact center).

 Press to flatten, remove from press and set banana leaf with pressed corn meal unto foil sheet.

 Place 2 tbsp of chicken about 1 ½ inches away from the edge closest to you. Be sure to leave edges free from filling to ensure a secure seal.

 Add 3-4 raisins and 3- 4 slices of olives to the chicken filling.

 Fold over top side of banana leaf ensuring that the edges all align to seal the filling.

 Fold forward again to enclose, then fold both sides toward the center.

 Place folded banana leaf with pastelle inside just past the halfway mark of the foil sheet.

 Fold the top side of the foil sheet to meet the other end and fold both ends towards to pastelle.

 Fold both ends using small folds until it reaches the pastelle.

 Continue this process for the other pastelles.

Steaming the Pastelles:

 Using a deep sauté pan, fill halfway with water.

 Once full, place frozen pastelles in the water and cover (as illustrated in the video).

 Bring the water to a boil over medium heat and allow to cook for 20 mins until center of the pastelles feels soft.

 Remove pastelles from water, allow to cool before eating.


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