Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Aliments: Sustenance and Libations - Empanadas

This month’s installment of “Aliments” is going to be super simple.  Firmly into the middle of February, we’re probably all a little tired of winter, and heavy eating that takes a lot of prep and doesn’t do our New Year diets any favors.  Either that or those New Year diets have you ready to cave and run for the junk food.

A couple weeks ago I found myself craving empanadas.  Couldn’t be much easier, cheaper, or tastier.  They’re a filling snack or can be a good light meal option.  This recipe is more similar to the Caribbean style of empanadas (Dominican, Cuban, Jamaican) than the South American (Argentine) style, which tend to leave lots more stuff in them.  

Read on for more:

I only needed three ingredients from the store: a pound of ground beef, a packet of taco seasoning, and a roll of flaky “Grands” biscuits.

For the filling:

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 packet taco seasoning

1.    In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef with the flour and seasoning.  Use your hands to mix the ingredients into the ground beef.
2.    Add the seasoned beef mixture to the water in a skillet over medium heat.  Mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula, and break up the meat as it cooks.  Heat for 5 to 6 minutes, or until browned.  The finished product should be very smooth, somewhat pasty, with no large chunks of beef remaining.

Now preheat your oven to 375.

For the shells, all you do is open the roll of biscuit dough and pull them apart the same as you would to make the biscuits.  I separated each biscuit in half to make more (a roll of 5 biscuits works fine this way) and because I didn’t want my empanada shells to be too thick.  Press them out into a disc about 5 or 6 inches.  A bit of flour on your hands really helps to keep the dough from sticking to you and it’s a good idea to work on wax or parchment paper to make clean up easier on you. 

Once your shells are ready, put about a tablespoon or two or the beef into them, fold in half, and pinch the edge closed.  Be careful not to overfill and tear your dough.  If you have some shredded cheese to sprinkle in at this point it’s a good option.

Put them on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  If you like them crispy leave them in a bit longer, or shorter if you prefer them somewhat more doughy. 

This recipe should make 10-12 empanadas (depending on how you divide up the dough), and you’ll likely have about a cup of the beef filling left over to use for some tacos or burritos later in the week. 

For a healthy meal, I recommend empanadas with a side salad, a cup of brown rice, and/or fresh (or reduced sodium) black beans.  And maybe a light cerveza on the side.  That should go a long way to chasing the winter blahs away.

And to burn off the cals?  Go hit up the dance floor and get your baile de salsa on!

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