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Empanadillas, tostones and pasteles are trending up this season! We can help you impress your group with Puerto Rican food.

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Why is Puerto Rican catering a popular choice for office catering events?

Combine the best aspects of African, Mexican, Taino Indian, and Spanish cuisine, throw in a generous helping of island influence, and you get the culinary magic that is Puerto Rican food. Proteins, such as ground beef, pork, and chicken, hold court alongside starch yuca and green plantains. Sauces combine tropical fruits, such as pineapple and mango, with tomatoes and aromatics for dishes that feel familiar yet exciting — the perfect profile for a memorable catering setup.

Puerto Rican catering is accessible yet introduces guests and employees to something different. Dishes such as rice and beans exist in so many different cultures that they become bridges, sparking conversation and acting like comfort food, even during a lunch meeting.

What are some traditional Puerto Rican dishes?

Traditional Puerto Rican dishes are rich and savory, with lots of slow-roasted and braised meats paired with rice and a cold beverage — rum cocktails and beer are local favorites.

- Mofongo: This Puerto Rican classic features deep-fried plantains mashed up with garlic and topped with pork or seafood. The plantain mix often contains chicharrónes, crunchy bits of deep-fried pork skin that add both texture and flavor.

- Empanadillas: The perfect hand-held snack, empanadillas are savory half-round turnovers filled with ground beef and potatoes.

- Tostones: Tostones are another popular plantain dish, but this time the starchy fruit is sliced, fried, flattened, and then fried again until crispy.

- Lechon: Whole roasted pig is a Puerto Rican delicacy. The meat is typically marinated in an adobo mix first (heavy on the garlic, oregano, and black pepper with vinegar and water to finish), then cooked over hot coals.

- Rice and beans: Known in Puerto Rico as arroz y habichuelas, this dish includes pink beans stewed with veggies, a ham hock, and a collection of herbs and spices, served with a mound of medium-grain rice.

- Pasteles: Similar to Mexican tamales, pasteles feature stewed pork, veggies, chicken, or salted cod stuffed into green banana masa.

There are also lots of tasty Puerto Rican desserts that are perfect for individual portions at a corporate catering event. Dish up small bowls of tembleque, a coconut custard, followed by rich and creamy café con leche (coffee with milk).

For beverages, there are piña coladas (the national drink of Puerto Rico) brimming with pineapple and coconut — skip the alcohol, and you have an office-friendly drink that still feels island inspired. Near the holidays, try coquito, an eggnog-like drink made with coconut milk, coconut cream, white rum, evaporated and/or condensed cow’s milk, and warm spices, such as nutmeg and cinnamon.

What kinds of flavors does Puerto Rican cuisine bring?

Authentic Puerto Rican food is complex and layered. Many dishes start with a base mixture called sofrito that includes garlic, peppers, onions, and cilantro. Grilled, roasted, and stewed proteins provide depth, while fruity accompaniments and acidic sauces offer an ideal counterpoint.

Unlike many Caribbean and Latin American cuisines, Puerto Rican food doesn’t incorporate a lot of chilies. The goal isn’t to heap on the spiciness but to rely on citrus, herbs, and milder spices to achieve a signature balance of sweet and salty.

How much Puerto Rican catering should I order?

When estimating how much food to order per person, first consider which dishes you’re ordering. The greater the variety on the menu, the less you’ll need of each item.

Generally speaking, you want approximately 4 to 5 ounces of meat, two pieces of handheld items, and 4 ounces of side dishes per person. Expand that as follows:

- For 10 people: Order 40 to 50 ounces of meat or meat-containing dishes, such as mofongo, approximately 10 appetizers or snacks, such as empanadillas, and 40 to 50 ounces of your chosen sides.

- For 20 people: Order 80 to 100 ounces of protein dishes, 20 appetizers or snacks, and 80 to 100 ounces of sides.

- For 50 people: Order 200 to 250 ounces of meat, 50 appetizers or snacks, and 200 to 250 ounces of sides.

How have other countries influenced Puerto Rico’s cuisine?

Puerto Rico has been a hotspot for explorers for centuries. The local cuisine has been heavily influenced by Spanish settlers, native cookery, and African culinary techniques. The seasoning is particularly Spanish, while the type of produce grown on the islands determines the sweetness and acidity present in many dishes.