Saturday, August 3, 2013

Colombian Empanadas

I discovered Colombian empanadas about 3 years ago.  I went to a Colombian bakery and sampled various goodies.  They have a bread called "pan de bono", I have no idea how to translate this except that it is bono bread because I don't know what "bono" means in Spanish.  Therefore I will provide a description.  It is a gluten-free bread made of yucca flour and one of those bland homestyle fresh cheeses much like farmer's cheese or mozzarella.   Those are really the basic ingredients and I know because I have tried making these little buns and they are really good and very easy to make. Absolutely wonderful fresh from the oven and only about 20 minutes of prep time along with about 12 minutes in the oven.  I had one of their typical big breakfasts with sausage and salted potatoes and I think they call them mountaineers breakfasts, cause that is one big honkin' breakfast!

That was when I tried the empanadas.  They are very different from anyone else's, with the exception of the yucca ones I made before (still my favorite ones!).  These shells are made from cornmeal, water, salt, and oil.  That's it and then you let it rest for about 20 minutes and it comes together in a beautiful way!

While this lovely concoction sits, you make the filling.  This filling is a little different from the ones I usually make as you incorporate your choice of minced meat (I used pork and beef), with semi-mashed boiled potatoes.

You combine the potatoes and minced meat for your filling. The general Colombian spices are actually very simple and the recipes I found had only a little onion, garlic, cumin, tomato S&P. This simple seasoning in the filling paves the way for a spicy dipping sauce.

 The dough is very tender and should only be handled initially to form a ball then put between 2 sheets of plastic to pat out into a disk.  Ummm my pictures are kind of messed up so above is the disk, below is the meat and potato mixed together.
 Here is the ball of dough.  You rip off about 2 tablespoons and roll it between your palms then pat out under the cling film.
 Add about 1tablespoon of filling and use the cling film to fold over the other side.  Press to seal.
 That's it! Just fry fry fry in some oil. I use canola oil in a cast iron pan as my lovely pan has become my favorite tool in the kitchen. I must confess I only use it to fry but I really need to expand my repertoire and make a bunch of stuff in there!  One important note, the dough is VERY sensitive, so use a tool to drop the empanada in the hot oil.  I finally figured out that I could use a metal spatula.
 Here is one cut in half as you can see the potato chunks.  Now the sauce!
The sauce imparts a large amount of flavor and some spicy heat.  Just use a chili pepper, any one you want, habanero for the brave ones, jalapeno for those who want a little less pain, etc.  I remove the seeds and ribs because I don't want to die.  You combine this with a white vinegar to water ratio of 2 to 1 and add salt, little caster sugar.  In one of those tiny food processors (I have a 1 cup size), add bunch, coriander, parsley, green onions, your hot chili pepper of choice, and lime juice.  Blitz it and add to your liquids along with some veg or olive oil. I use olive oil.  You can spruce up with some dashes of your fave hot sauce and you are good!

This is very different from the empanadas you may be familiar with but you will not be disappointed. Give it a whirl if you enjoy these little meals in a package.

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