Authentic Empanadas

To say the least, this past weekend was crazy, and draining.  It was the first Florida football game against the Bowling Green Falcons, so, as usual, Gainesville was packed with fans.  Although the kickoff wasn’t until 3:30 P.M., tents were strewn all throughout campus by 9 A.M., and one couldn’t walk a block without hearing a horn honk or someone shouting “Go Gators!”.

At 12 P.M, Kate (my roommate), and I were ready to join the celebration, so we hitched a ride with one of our friends to a fraternity barbecue.  The party was thrown at an off campus house with a huge backyard, which was nice, but I was surprised to see that it was being held outside, in the heat, at 12 O’ clock in the afternoon.  After about a half hour, I, along with every other partier, was drenched in sweat.  I could see that the heat was dwindling the party; less people were dancing, and more people were huddling under the tent.  I was just as affected, and quite honestly wished for some air conditioning, but was happy to stay so long as there were burgers and hot dogs being served by the gentlemen.

Finally, at about 2:45, my friend and I headed to the Swamp.  Unfortunately, we had to walk because of some car complications, but we still got there relatively on time.  By 3:45, I was sunburned, sweating, and aching from the walk, but I was ready to watch some football!  The excitement of the screaming fans was palpable as I entered the stadium.  I looked around, and all I could see was orange and blue; I don’t think one Bowling Green fan was present.

As much as I wanted to stay for the whole game, I ended up leaving at half time thanks to the scorching heat.  Needless to say, the 95 degree weather and my boiling metal seat were not doing much to cool me off.  Luckily, I got the scoop from one of my sorority sisters later that we had won the game 27 – 14.

If you were to ask me if I regret leaving early, I would probably say no.  Mainly because I had more time to plan my dinner menu.  After such a social day packed with action, all I wanted was to do was veg-out and watch a movie.  So, I decided to make something that was simple and easy to eat on the couch.  I searched a number of food blogs to get some ideas, and came upon these traditional beef empanadas from Snixy Kitchen.  This recipe was perfect because I already had ground beef in the fridge, so all I had to do was swing by Publix to pick up some mix-in ingredients and the empanada dough.

A Little Insight

Before I let you know how amazing the empanadas were, let me give you some background information as to how they came about.  According to the Restaurant El Almenecer , empanadas originated from the nation of Galicia, located in the northwest corner of Spain.  The Galicians were a busy people focused on fishing and agriculture, and so they created the empanada to be eaten on the go.

 Galicia

Empanadas are essentially thin disks of dough crimped around a filling, thus creating their defining semicircular shape.  The verb empanar, which means to wrap or coat in bread, comes from Spain.  While the Galicians first stuffed their pastries primarily with chicken and fish, today there are countless more varieties throughout Latin America.  Many are filled with cheese, ham, chicken, fish, spinach, and even fruit for a sweet treat.  They can also be fried instead of baked.

The variety that I composed comes from Argentina.  Argentinians are very serious about their empanadas.  Every year contestants enter their prized creation into the National Empanada Festival, which takes place in the empanada capital of the world, Famailla. Every entrant has hopes of their empanada being crowned “Empanada de Oro”, or “The Golden Empanada“.

This year, the festival is being held from September 7 thru the 9, and popular artists such as Los Manseros Santiagueños and Raly Barrionueveo will be performing. Unfortunately, I will be in classes, so I cannot fly down to attend.  If you are in the area, don’t miss your opportunity to try some great authentic treats.

My empanadas took a traditional route, and were filled with beef, which is a staple in Argentina.  The meat was seasoned with a wonderful trio of paprika, chili powder, and cumin, and complemented by the olives, egg, onions and potatoes.  Honestly, my friends and I agreed that this variety could do without the raisins.  They were just too sweet and didn’t mesh well with the other ingredients.   Despite that minor detail, the empanadas were delicious.  I loved the crunchy crust, and the ethnic spices were delightful.  If I made these empanadas again (which I will), I would omit the raisins and they would be perfect.

Authentic Empanadas (recipe from Snixy Kitchen)

        Ingredients

  • 20 round disks of empanada dough (I used Goya pre-made dough)
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 small red potatoes, chopped into little cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup green olives, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 egg whisked with 2 tablespoons milk

Make homemade dough (recipe), or thaw out pre-made disks

Soak the raisins in water for 20 minutes.

Boil the eggs until cooked through and boil the potato cubes in salted water until tender.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a minute.

Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two.

Add the ground beef, cumin, chile powder, paprika, and salt. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until the beef is browned.

Add the beef broth, green olives, and raisins. Simmer until the liquid is almost gone.

Stir in the hard-boiled egg and cooked potatoes.

Let cool while you roll out the empanada disks.

Place 2 tablespoons of filling on each disk. Fold in half and crimp the edges using your fingers or a fork.  Place each finished empanada on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet.

Brush each empanada with the egg wash.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

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