Alcapurrias - The Quintessential Puerto Rican Street Food
Alcapurrias are the quintessential Puerto Rican street food and can be found all over the Island. These delicious fried treats are basically the summer-version of pasteles. You take the same dough and stuff it with meat--but rather than boiling it in banana leaves, you deep fry it (because that's how you make the best street food). Trust me, you'll love it!
16 oz picadillo (check out that recipe HERE)
3 lbs yautia
3 lbs green banana
1 semi-ripe plantain
1 tbs achiotte oil
2 tsp sazon (1 packet) (check out that recipe HERE)
1 tbs adobo (check out that recipe HERE)
1 tbs vegetable shortening
The first thing we need to do is prepare our dough. Start by peeling your yautia. There are different ways to do this, but I’ve found the easiest is just to use a vegetable peeler. First cut off the ends of the yautia and then use the vegetable peeler to remove all of the rough skin. As you peel the yautia, cut it into smaller chunks and place it in clean water.
Next peel your green bananas. To do this, just cut off both ends of the banana, then use your knife to score the banana’s skin lengthwise in three or four places. Then you should be able to use your fingers to pull back the skin. Again, as you peel the bananas, place them into a bowl with clean water, to prevent them from getting discolored.
Finally, peel your plantain. The approach here is the same as with the bananas. Just cut off both ends, then score the skin and peel in back with your fingers.
Once all your starches are peeled, let’s start making the dough. First grate your yautia using a food processor. As you are grating it, try and shake off as much water as possible, in order to prevent the dough from getting too wet.
Once the yautia is grated, transfer it to a clean bowl and then begin grating your bananas and plantain. Again, try to shake off as much water as possible as you grate them.
Once your bananas and plantain are grated, move them to a bowl and replace your grater attachment with the chopping blade.
Now return the grated banana and plantain to the food processor and blend it until all the pieces are finely chopped. You might need to pulse the mixture a little, in order to make sure the mixture is homogeneously blended.
Once your mixture is evenly chopped, go ahead and add your grated yautia to the food processor and keep blending until your dough is finely chopped. You might need to use a spatula to move the mixture around, in order to ensure that everything is evenly processed.
Once finished, your starches should be evenly chopped, and look like wet oatmeal, or cream of wheat. Then transfer your mixture to a clean bowl, in order to season the dough.
To finish your dough, add the achiotte oil, the vegetable shortening, the sazon, and the adobo. Once everything is added, mix your dough until it is evenly combined.
With your dough prepared, we are ready to start frying our alcapurrias. Turn your stove on to medium high and add oil to a wide, heavy pan. The oil should be approximately one inch deep.
Heat your oil until it's 325 Fahrenheit. Once hot, you are ready to start shaping your alcapurrias. To do this, take a heavy paper plate and fold it in half. Then, using an offset spatula, add approximately two-thirds of a cup of dough to your plate and spread it out into a rough rectangle, approximately three inches wide by five inches high. Then add some of your picadillo in the middle of the rectangle and push it down lightly into the dough. Once your filling is in place, fold the sides of the dough back over the filling and smooth out the surfaces. You’ll also need to pat down the ends of alcapurria, to make sure the filling is completely covered. If there are any parts where the filling is showing through, just add a little bit more dough. Once your alcapurria is shaped, use your offset spatula to scoop it up and place it in the hot oil.
Now keep going with the rest of your alcapurrias. Place your dough in the middle of the plate and spread it out into a rough rectangle. Then add your filling and gently pat it down before folding the sides of the dough up, over the filling. Tap down the ends of the alcapurria and smooth the sides. Then pick up the alcapurria and place it in the hot oil.
Keep adding alcapurrias to your oil, until the pan is full. You don’t want to crowd your alcapurrias, however, as you cook them, so leave plenty of space between them.
Fry your alcapurrias until they are brown on all sides. Once cooked, take them out and place them on a rack to dry. I’ve found that if you place them on paper towel, they don’t stay crisp because the towel traps a lot of the moisture escaping from the alcapurria. Instead, I’ve found that a drying rack on top of a cookie sheet works best, as it keeps the alcapurrias crispy, while at the same time capturing any oil that drips off of them.
Now if you are less adventurous with an offset spatula, I’m also going to show you another way to shape your alcapurrias. Start by adding some oil to a piece of heavy aluminum foil. Then add your dough to the aluminum foil and spread it out into a rough rectangle.
Once your dough is spread out, add your filling and fold up the edges of the aluminum foil, using the foil to fold the edges of the dough over the filling. Then use your spatula to finish sealing up the edges, so you can’t see any of the filling. You can also keep using the aluminum foil to shape the edges into a neat rectangle. Once shaped, just move your aluminum foil next to your oil and slide the alcapurria off the foil, into the oil.
Whichever method you choose to use, go ahead and keep going until you’ve used all of your dough and filling. The recipe yielded 14 alcapurrias for me, but obviously it will depend a lot on how big you make your alcapurrias.
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.