Something put me in the mood to take another shot at making empanadas. Perhaps it was the cooler weather.
Perhaps it was because I am trying to use up the ingredients in my pantry before we move to Pennsylvania. More likely, it was my husband talking about wanting to go back to visit Colombia so that he could get some. Since two airplane tickets to Bogota aren’t exactly in our budget this Summer, this is as close as we’re going to get…until we investigate a few Colombian restaurants in Philadelphia.
Whether you walk up a hot street in Cartagena or down a cool road in Boyaca, you’re bound to pass someone selling empanadas. Vendors sell them from carts on the sidewalks. Fast food joints as well as restaurants feature them on menus. One of my husband’s wealthier students even bought some for us from a lady that was carrying them in a basket through his neighborhood one morning.
Empanadas can be found outside of Colombia. The wrapper and the filling will differ from country to country as well as in different cities.
This recipe is okay for your gluten-free friends, but I can’t claim that it is healthful, since they are deep-fried.
If you are a visual learner, you can watch a video, here, on YouTube, but the audio is in Spanish.
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb potatoes, cubed
3 bay leaves
about 4 cups water
1 T salt
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 T cumin
(1/2 T coloring)
about 2 cups pre-cooked corn flour (I bought P.A.N.)
(1/2 T coloring)
1 T salt
liquid reserved from cooking the meat and potatoes
enough oil for deep frying
Cook the ground beef with the cubed potatoes, bay leaves, water and salt until the potatoes are tender. Pour off the liquid, reserving it for a later step. Toss the bay leaves.
In a frying pan, sautee the tomato and onion in a little bit of oil until the onion begins to soften. Add the garlic, cumin, and coloring (if you chose to buy some…available in the Mexican spice section, usually).
Combine the cooked beef-potato mixture with your stewed tomato sauce. Set aside while you prepare the wrapper dough.
Add corn flour, salt, and coloring to the hot water that you reserved from cooking the beef-potato mixture. Use enough to form a dough that you can manage with your hands: neither liquid nor dry and crumbly. Be sure that you use pre-cooked corn flour. The other kind will not give you the correct texture.
Divide the dough into balls. The video says that you should be able to make 22 empanadas.
Place one ball of dough between sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten it into a circle either with a cutting board or a rolling pin. Repeat this step with the remaining dough. You can stack them with just one sheet of plastic wrap between each after you have rolled one out.
Place a small scoop of filling on a circle of your dough. Fold the dough over the filling, using the plastic wrap. Seal it with your finger tips, forming a half circle shape. Create a clean edge by pressing the edge with a cereal bowl. Repeat this step with the rest of your filling and wrappers.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan wide and deep enough to hold and cover at least one empanada. This will vary depending on how much oil you want to use. I deep-fried one at a time in a small sauce pan, but I didn’t make a whole batch.
Place an empanada in the hot oil and let it cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the empanada with a slotted spoon or tongs. Set the hot empanada either on paper towels or a cooling rack to allow some of the excess oil to drip off.
Enjoy your empanada with your favorite hot sauce. We can’t make the real aji sauce here, because they don’t sell the right kind of pepper in Columbus, that I know of.
They are best fresh. I put some in the toaster the next morning, but it is hard to get them to heat through. Also, you risk the flavor of old oil.