Unas Empanaditas

You can find empanadas, little pasties full of meat, fish, or veggies from Mexico on down but each country, each city even has its own specialties, its own mix of spices and its own distinct flavor.

In Corrientes the varieties usually are limited to ham and cheese, meat (mixed with spiced and onions), chicken, humita which is a kind of corn stew, and fish from the river Parana. In Buenos Aires however the combinations are endless from prune and blue cheese with jamon crudo to rasin studded steak creations, though they are still nothing like the jalapeno laden lovelies one might find farther north.

The empanadas most loved by my fiance are ham and cheese, which works out for me because they are also the quickest and easiest to make as there isn't much middle-making required. The recipe I am going to give however, for empanadas criollas, are probably the most common variety in all of Argentina and if you want Argentine-Style then this is what you get.

The masa for empanadas (or the dough within which you will need to wrap your little lump of meaty-goodness) is sold, pre-made in every supermarket in town, but just because you cant go out and find a package of perfectly sized empanada shells doesn't mean you cant have fabulous empanadas at home. Personally, my favorite empanadas are made with puff pastery, because they turn out light and flaky and the flavor of what is inside can bust through in a shower of glory that is impossible in a thicker or more gluten-heavy dough. To make things easy on yourself you can go out and buy puff pastry and cut into small rounds, or make your own favorite recipe for this. The recipe I have however is, I suppose, more "authentic" it is in Spanish and I am going to translate it for you right now, from the handwriting of my-soon-to-be-mother-in-law.

Masa Para Empanadas:

4 cups of flour
1/3 cup of oil, plus a little glug
1 egg

To make the masa, pour the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Make a small hole in the flour in the center and add the egg, oil and a little water, mixing to create a dough. Adding more water as needed. Roll out the dough until pie-style thick and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut the dough into smallish circles, and fill with 2-3 large spoonfuls of your meat mixture. Fold the empanada in half and roll, twist or push the edges down with a fork to seal them off- I use a little water on the edge to help it stick.

You can have your empanadas fritas (fried) or al horno (oven baked) depending on your tastes. To fry slush some oil in the bottom of a fry pan and wait for it to heat up. When it is nice and hot add no more than 4 empanadas at a time and cook until golden brown on each side.

To bake in the the oven, oil a oven-proof dish or pan and put your empanadas in at about 400 degrees. Once they are golden on one side, you may need to flip them over so keep your eyes open for this.

Relleno (filling):

Olive oil
1 large onion chopped very finely
1 pound of ground beef
1 teaspoon ground sweet red pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 teaspoons parsley
1 small can of tomato paste
a pinch of sugar
4 hard boiled eggs, minced

(optional: 1/3 a cup of raisins)

In a pan add your onion and garlic and cook until you can tell the onion is transparent and soft. Add the spices and meat and cook thoroughly. Take off the heat and add the raisins and eggs, and taste to see if it needs more salt. Put into masa rounds and cook!

According to Wikipedia, an online encyclopidia full of loads of interesting food history and facts: "In Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines, an empanada is
essentially a stuffed pastry. The name comes from the Spanish verb, empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.

It is likely that the Latin American empanadas were originally from Galicia, Spain, where an empanada is prepared similar to a pie that is cut in pieces making it a portable and hearty meal for working people. The Galician empanada is usually prepared with cod fish or chicken. Due to the large number of Galician immigrants in Latin America the empanada gallega has also become very popular in that region. Of course the idea of an empanada is almost surely the influence of the Moors who occupied Spain for 800 years. Middle Eastern cuisine to this day has similar foods, like simbusak (a fried, chickpea filled "empanada") from Iraq."

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Sounds good. Not sure if I would bother to make them because i am lazy, but you never know. I only just found your other blog http://woollypomelos.blogspot.com/ it takes some work to find it. Mum