Cuban Pastelitos de Carne (Picadillo): Easy BTS Snack
Cuban Recipes for Back to School
If anywhere in their lives, my kids embrace multiculturalism and their Cuban heritage through their stomachs. They might not be (fully) bilingual (yet!), but Alina can woof down Cuban recipes como una Cubanito sincera. Walmart asked me to share our favorite back to school snacks and quick meals, so I’m showcasing one of my all-time favorite BTS snacks as a kid: the Cuban Pastelito de Carne, or Cuban Picadillo stuffed meat pies.
The term pastel means pie in Spanish and, if you know anything about Spanish, adding -ito to the end of it makes cute, little pies. Stuffed with a Cuban ground meat hash, known as picadillo, and you’ve got cute, little meat pies that are perfect as back-to-school snacks. I grew up on pastelitos de carne as after-school snack food, but you can definitely make them bigger for a quick meal. As far as I know, traditional pastelitos are circular in shape, but you can find them in squares and triangles too. Or filled with sweets, cheeses. Use your imagination!
Cuban Picadillo Pastelitos Recipe
2 sheets of pre-made puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions
1 pound of homemade Cuban Picadillo
*my recipe above includes store bought sofrito, but to make your own, check out my Cuban recipe for Cuban Sofrito. While I love short-cuts as much as any busy mom, Cuban sofrito is easy to make. Give it a try!
** Cubans cook according to their whim. We love to improvise! The Picadillo recipe above uses ground turkey. This time I used ground bison and, since I didn’t have raisins, I used a combination of dried berries that had cranberries, pomegranate, golden and regular raisins. Use what you have. The seasoning is what makes Picadillo special.
Simple Sugar (1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a circle-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many circles you can get out of each sheet of puff pastry. Follow the same pattern for the second sheet of puff pastry. Fill the center of one circle with Picadillo, making sure to keep the filling at least a half an inch away from the borders. Keep a small dish of water near by and, with wet finger tips, moisten the borders of the puffy pastry. Add the second circle on top, creating a top to your pastelito. Again with damp finger tips, secure the seems closed. Repeat this until all your pastelitos are assembled.
On a greased cooking sheet, cook the pastelitos for 12-14 minutes. During this time, make your simple syrup by bringing half water, half sugar to a boil. Remove pastelitos from oven and brush a light layer of simple syrup on the tops of them. Cook for another 3-5 minutes until slightly golden brown. Let them cool a bit and serve. Or store in air tight containers for snacks later.
*You will likely have lots of Picadillo leftover over. Have rice cooking while you’re making the pastelitos and, not only will you have hearty back to school snacks, dinner will be ready too!
Cuban Recipes Make My Heart Sing
I love all kinds of Latino foods. It makes me so happy to watch my kids devor foods soak in spices that some kids wouldn’t touch. But passing down food culture and food traditions like these Cuban recipes specifically makes my heart sing. It also gives me the opportunity to talk about my great-grandmother, who made these snacks in our kitchen while my mom was at work. I don’t know whether I would tell the stories of my Margo as often without passing down food traditions.
Do you pass down food culture to your kids? Send me your recipes so I can try them out! Also, have you seen these Sweet Potato Empanadas as a quick BTS breakfast? They’re super yum and healthy!
*Disclosure: As a member of the Walmart Moms program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post.