At this month’s Cooking Club we had a Latin American theme. I usually try to make something I’ve never tried making before or something I think is creative or challenging. So, I made arepas (sort of like corn flour rolls) but in case they didn’t work out, I had bought some frozen empanada dough discs (made with yucca and annatto). It wouldn’t have mattered – I ran out of time– so if they didn’t work SOL. (They weren’t too bad, but wasn’t my best dish.)
Anyway, on the following night since I had already defrosted the empanada discs and some stew beef from our CSA I suggested to my husband he make empanadas for dinner, which he did (he’s good like that). I helped by grinding the beef in the food processor and making some of the sides, but that’s about all. I wasn’t too sure the kids would eat the empanada without any fuss, but I figured if they tried a bite they’d probably like them. We told them that they were similar to tacos. They all love tacos, and it stuck. They just called them “those taco things” for days afterwards.
I was pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm for the dinner even before it was fully assembled and in the oven; especially by my youngest two. They were thrilled to see the meat go in the shells (I think meat is such a boy thing) and ate them with such gusto.
We served a salad, black beans, brown rice, salsa and my husband’s delicious guacamole with the empanadas. Though my youngest wouldn’t touch any beans, salsa or guac—he’s the pickiest of all three.
10 pack of empanada shells (used Goya with yucca)
1 pound beef (ground)
½ onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
handful chopped fresh cilantro
salt & pepper
Pour Tbsp olive oil in a fry pan and get it hot. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Turn down heat to medium and add onions and sauté until nearly translucent. Add garlic, chili powder and cumin. Cook stirring often for a couple of minutes then add the oregano and tomato paste. Thin out with about ¼ cup of water (adjust according to desired consistency). Salt and pepper to taste. Take off heat and cool. Stir in cilantro when cooled.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place about 2 Tbsp of mixture onto center of a shell, brush a little water along edge then fold in half and press outside edge together. Press with a fork around round edge to completely seal.
Add Tbsp olive oil to hot pan. Sauté each side until brown, then bake on parchment lined cookie tray for 20 minutes. Serve while hot.
We had 4 extras that went into the freezer instead of the oven – my middle son asked me to serve it for dinner the following night (he had to wait 2 nights, but I was happy to oblige).