Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Argentine Empanada Filling

This is from a Viking Home Chef class we went to. I am posting this mainly for myself so I don't lose the recipe. It's a lot of work but quite tasty!

1/2 pound ground chuck (no less than 20 percent fat)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, finely diced
1/2 medium red bell pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 3/4 tsp. each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup currants (or raisins), rehydrated*
1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 green onions, green tops only, very finely sliced
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, finely chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
1 recipe Empanada Dough (or purchase pre-made empanada shells)**

1. In a large saute pan, cook the beef over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a bowl and set aside until needed. (Note: do not remove the drippings from the pan!)

2. Place the same pan with the beef drippings back over medium-high heat; add the oil, and heat through. Stir in the onions, cook until soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add the water, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the beef back to the pain; stir in the currants, vinegar, parsley, green onions, olives, and boiled eggs. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper (Note: the filling should be extremely flavorful- almost over the top, as the pastry will minimize the filling flavors). Set aside to cool completely before stuffing the empanadas.

4. On a silicone mat, roll one dough disk into a circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 5-inch round cutter, cut out as many circles as is possible without overlapping. Place a couple of sheets of parchment paper on your work surface, and transfer the dough circles to the parchment in a single even layer; do not allow the circles to touch, or they might stick. Re-roll the scrap dough, and cut out more circles- placing on the parchment as you make them. Repeat with the remaining dough until all of the empanada shells are formed. (Note: if not using immediately, cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to stuff. If using pre-made empanada shells, skip step 4 and move on to step 5).

5. Place a heaping tablespoonful of filling in the center of each circle, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the filling. Moisten the border with a finger dipped in warm water. Fold the empanada in half to make a turnover, then firmly press the edges together to seal. Crimp in 1/4 inch sections with your thumb and forefinger, folding the dough back over itself each time to form a rope-like pattern around the edges. Preheat oven to 400.

6. Place the empanadas on an oiled baking sheet at least 2 inches apart, and cook until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately. (Note: these are delicious served with chimichurri sauce!)

*Cover the currants (or raisins) with simmering water; allow to stand until plump and moist, about 10 to 20 minutes. Drain well, then proceed with recipe.

**Purchase empanada shells at your local Spanish or South American market. The preferred brand is Blancaflor Empanada Shells/Flaky Oven Dough, which provides an incredibly flaky, tender product. Some other brands we tested baked to a hard, dry consistency.

Make it ahead: The filling may be made up to 3 days in advance and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator until needed. Or, the filling may be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and drain well before using.

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