Yesterday I gave you all a teaser and told you a party was being planned. All I told you was that it was going to be a South American Fiesta. Another Adult Cooking Class It was most definitely a fun fiesta indeed. It was an empanada party, complete with two different kinds of empanadas, and two different types of doughs for the empanadas, with an array of other South American to dishes to accompany the empanadas as well.
The Empanada Girls – Me with my sous chefs, from left to right – Su Yeun, Priscilla, Linda, Elizabeth, Peggy, Amy, and Lauren and I in the back. My Sous Chefs and I made everything beforehand and the boys all joined us later to help us eat the fruits of our labors.
Empanadas are staples all over the Spanish speaking parts of the world. They are hand held pockets of bread filled with meats, vegetables or sweets. They are traditionally fried or baked. It just depends on how you like to eat them. I have had them both ways, many times, and I prefer them fried over baked.
The name empanada comes from the Latin in panis which means in bread. In Spanish empanar means to encase in bread. The early ancestors of the empanada seem to have originated in Persia around 250 BC. The early Persians made foods in a bread dough as a form of helping to preserve them as well as making them more easily transportable for the nomadic cultures that lived in those times. Empanadas started appearing wherever the Ottoman Empire left its mark. Once The Spanish laid their claim to these hand held pies, they went wherever the Spanish Conquistadors went and simply became known as empanadas. Every Spanish speaking country has their own particular version of empanadas, and they all have their own unique personalities.
Today, I am presenting you with the beef empanadas we made. For these empanadas, I made a basic flour dough. There are so many different varieties of empanadas. This is only one of endless possibilities. I made the doughs and the fillings earlier in the day before everyone arrived so all we had to do was assemble them. We had a lot on our plates, both literally and figuratively. This was a big time saver.
Beef Empanadas with a Master Dough
This dough is very similar to my own master dough that I call my go-to dough that I use for many different recipes.
3 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup or 1 stick of cold butter, cubed
1 TBSP orange juice
2/3 cup seltzer water – I did not have any regularly seltzer water, so I used one of my flavored “fizzy waters” as I call them. It worked just fine. Since I was using orange juice, I chose a blood orange fizzy water.
Pulse all the dry ingredients and butter together in a food processor until they resemble a coarse sand, then add the orange juice and seltzer water and pulse again for about 1-2 minutes, or until it all forms into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before using.
The Beef Filling
Beef is very popular in the Spanish world, so there are many, many different beef recipes. Most of them are regional, using what is readily available. It wasn’t planned, but both varieties of empanadas we made were from Venezuela. These empanadas are known as empanadas de carne mechada. Part of what makes them so distinctive is the cumin used in the mix. These empanadas de mechada are very popular in Caracas.
1 1/2-2 lbs steak, cubed very small
1 cup yellow onion, diced fine
1-1/2 cups tomatoes, diced fine – this time I used Compari tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced fine
1 1/2 TBSP garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 cup beef broth
1/3 cup fresh parsley chopped fine
olive oil for cooking
Get the skillet very hot, then add the olive oil and pepper, onions and garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the beef, tomatoes, beef broth and parsley.
Continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until everything is completely cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover and chill for at least an hour or two before cooking. Overnight is fine too. Mine rested overnight before using it.
When you are ready to fill the empanadas, lightly flour your work area and start rolling out the dough. Roll the dough nice and thin, to about 1/4 inch in thickness. You can make your empanadas any size and any shape you like. We made two different shapes for the two different types of empanadas. We made them about 3 inches in diameter. Add about 1-1/2 heaping TBSP of filling to each round, then fold over and shape how you like. Do not over fill the meat pockets or they will over flow and will be hard to seal. Press the edges tightly and crimp together to form your seal.
We made a whole bunch of empanadas; two very full batches, with plenty of fillings left over for more yet to come, or something completely different. 🙂
We fried our empanadas in HOT, HOT, HOT canola oil. Make sure the temperature is about 350* F or 190* C. Then carefully place the empanadas in the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until they turn a nice golden brown.
We served them with some fresh chimichurri sauce, Argentine style. Priscilla, my resident Argentine, made the chimichurri with lots of fresh parsley, lots of garlic, olive oil, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes. Linda is supervising and toasting her efforts for a job well done.
Proiscilla is adding the final touches.
I am going to leave this here for today. I have so much more fun times and delicious food to share. This was definitely a very fun cooking class. We It was made really fun because it was good friends gathering together to celebrate good times with good food.
Stay cool, stay safe and stay well Everyone. Make everyday a fiesta. ‘Til next time.