Monday, April 26, 2010

Colombian Empanadas

I got this recipe from my sweet Colombian friend - it is authentic and fabulous. Empanadas are like little fried pockets of flavor. You can fill with anything from beans & rice to beef & cheese, chicken, potatoes...anything goes! I'll give you her recipe and then I'll let you know how I did it with what I had on hand.

Colombian Empanadas (or Beef Patties)

Dough or Masa

2 cups precooked yellow cornmeal (masarepa)

3 cups hot water (almost boiling)

1 tablespoon sazon goya with azafran (3 packets) (optional)

1/2 teaspoon salt


2 cups white potatoes, peeled and cut into very small dice

1 chicken bouillon cube or vegetable bouillon cube

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

1 cup chopped tomato

1/4 cup green onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons red bell peppers, chopped

1 lb ground beef

salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon sazon goya (1 packet)

Rasins (optional) its of the sweet/salty thing if your into that

Canola oil (for deep frying)


Measure the masarepa into a large bowl, add the sazon, if using, and salt and mix well; add the water and mix to form a dough (it will be a little wet and rubbery); let stand while filling is prepared.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes with water and the bouillon until tender, about 10 minutes; drain, mash slightly and set aside.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil; add onion, tomatoes, green onions, garlic, bell pepper, and cilantro.

Cook, stirring occasionally until tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes.

Add ground beef, season with salt, pepper, cumin, and sazon; cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned and fairly dry.

Stir in potatoes and mix well.

Heat oil (at least 2 inches) over medium high heat.

Break off golf ball sized sections of dough (1.5 oz) and roll in your hands into a ball; place between plastic wrap and flatten with the heel of your palm into a 6 inch disc.

9Peel away plastic from top only and scoop plastic and disc into your palm; place a heaping tablespoon of filling in center then fold disc and pinch closed; slightly flatten to distribute filling.

With a slotted spoon, gently lower empanada into hot oil and cook 2 minutes, turning about halfway through (you'll need to cook in batches); drain on paper toweling.

Colmbian Aji (Salsa)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup green onion, finely minced (white and light green part only)

1/8 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced (more or less to taste)

1 teaspoon tomato, finely minced

Combine all ingredients, cover, and let sit in refrigerator for at least an hour so all the flavors develop before serving.

Serve this with a nice salad, so your empanadas can "shine"....Once you have your "Dough"down, you can pretty much put anything in your empanadas, chichen, fish

You can bake these, but they arent as pretty...

Here is what I did with what I had on hand. I didn't have the salsa ingredients in the house, so I just served them up with some shredded cheddar, lettuce, sour cream, hot sauce & red onion (I used my last tomato on the filling)...

First, I got the dough ready. I used 2 cups of Masa and about 2 1/2 cups of hot water - you want a sticky dough that you can kind of form into a ball. If it's too wet, add more masa. If it's too dry, add a bit more water.

Let it rest while you prepare the filling.

Boil the diced potatoes (make sure they are finely diced - about 1/4" dice) - I suggest using 2 boullion cubes and a bit of salt to flavor the potatoes well.
While that is cooking (about 10 minutes) get the veggies started. I didn't have bell pepper, but I had roasted red peppers that I previously made, so I used those.
Put a tbsp of oil in the hot pan & get the veggies going.
My hubby despises cilantro, but I always keep a pack of frozen/fresh cilantro on hand. This package is only about $1 at Trader Joes and each cube is 1 tsp of herbs.

They should look like this when they are cooked.
Drain the finished potatoes and put in a large bowl. Slightly mash them a bit and set aside.  Steeeeaaamy!
Now add the ground beef to the veggies along with the spices.
When the meat is browned, add it to the bowl with the potatoes & combine well. Taste it and make sure it's seasoned well.
Let the filling cool a little bit - the dough is fine resting for another 10 minutes while the filling cools.
When you're ready to eat, get a deep skillet hot. Add about 1/2" of vegetable/canola oil and bring up to temp. You can test to see if the oil is ready by tossing in a teeny bit of the masa. If it sizzles, it's time!

Lay out a square of plastic wrap. Grab a small amount of dough (about a 1.5" ball) and lay on the plastic. Take another square of plastic wrap and lay over the top. Press it out so it's about 1/4" thick - it should make about a 5-6" round. Remove the top layer of wrap.
Drop a tbsp or two of filling into the center.
Take one end of the plastic wrap and guide one end of the dough over to the other end....using the wrap to press the edges and form the pocket.
When the oil is sizzlin - gently drop them in. You will cook them in batches and flip each one over halfway through cooking. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side in my case - we like 'em golden & crispy!
When they are golden, remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with the Colombian Aji or any other fixin's you like!

These are REALLLLLY good. My husband said they are like little Colombian Pizza Puffs. Think about all the cool things you can make with this technique!  The filling possibilities are endless!

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