Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Happy Empanada Day!

I found a list of national food holidays so get ready for some weird celebrations.  These lists are extensive and frequently repetitive, but I think they are fun opportunities to create mini-celebrations.  I'll do anything for a party.  May 8th was National Empanda Day and the perfect opportunity to try Sarah's empanadas.

Did you know that empanadas originated in Portugal? That may be the first time that word was used, but every culture seems to have a version of them - English pasties, Indian samosas, Italian calzones, Chinese dumplings - they are all ways to seal up something delicious into an equally yummy wrapping.  I made the dough from the original recipe, but I had to add a lot of extra flour to get a consistency I could work with.  The dough is essentially the same as for tamales, but you fry it instead of steaming it. I had thought about trying to bake these instead of frying, but there is no way this dough would have stayed together without frying.  The softness of the dough also means that it was hard to fill.  But gently patting it out with a lot of flour and then using the plastic wrap to hold everything together made it doable.  The dough is tasty, but too fiddly for a work night.  Next time I'll try an easier recipe.

As annoying as the dough was, the filling was easy and delicious.  In the morning I put 2 lbs of lean stew beef, 1/2 cup of water, 1 chopped small yellow onion, 1 chopped green bell pepper, 2 minced serrano chiles, 5 minced cloves garlic, and 1 tablespoon of cumin in the crock pot.  Per the recipe, I added a packet of Goya Sazon.  Then I read the ingredients - it's mostly MSG and salt - so you can decide if you want to use that or not.  I cooked it on low for 6 hours and then shredded the beef before stirring in 1 cup of cooked peas, a bunch of sauteed greens, and 3 tablespoons of minced, fresh oregano.  I can't recommend the oregano enough, it really makes the filling.  The other key to this recipe is the dipping sauce made by blending an avocado, juice of 2 limes, salt, and 1/2 a bunch of cilantro with water to thin.

The empanadas were fantastic and I can't wait to make some more.  With the extra dough, I made dessert empanadas - fresh strawberries and banana with caramel!  Maybe the 8th of every month should be empanada day.

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