Empanadas de Omaira

Empanadas are a Spanish, Portuguese and South American treat. They should not be missed by any means for any reason. The other night the beautiful and talented Omaira, a Venezuelan friend, made her mother’s recipe for us! Prepare to get quite hungry while reading this post. It’s just going to happen. There’s nothing you can do about it.

Ingredients:
Empanada dough
white corn meal flour (Harina de Maiz Blanco)
water
salt

Filling
Potatoes: 4 red potatoes
1 Tbsp butter
Grated cheese
Beef: 225 grams (1/2 pound) ground beef
Your choice of spices for meat*
1/2 onion

Chicken: 225 grams (1/2 pound) chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 onion quartered
1/2 onion chopped

Other needed items
Saffola oil for frying
Salt
Pepper
1 Large block of cheddar cheese

Think that’s about right but I’m doing this from memory and considerable amounts of wine were involved. Ok, so here’s how you make these lovelies.

We made 2 different kinds of empanadas because, well, we could. If you want you could put only one kind of thing inside. It is really up to you.

First start by peeling and boiling the potatoes (in that order). This is an important step with which to start because much like the pot pies the potatoes have to be done before you make the empanadas. Once they are boiled (about 20-30 minutes) drain them and mash those puppies up! While mashing, add salt and pepper to taste and a good amount of grated cheese. Set aside.

Next chop up an onion and divide it into two equal piles. In a fry pan brown the ground beef. (*I add about 2 tsp of oregano, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste). Once it has begun to brown, add in the onions. Once everything is cooked. Set aside.

In a small pot boil about 2 cups of chicken broth. Quarter half of an onion and add it to the broth. Toss in the chicken and allow it to boil until it is done (about 10 minutes). Once it has boiled and is done in the middle, remove from heat, throw away the broth and boiled onion, and toss the chicken in a bowl. With two forks, shred the chicken. In a fry pan add the remaining half of the chopped onion and toss in the chicken. Spice as you like. Set aside.

Omaira attempts to teach Devon “the way.”

Now we’re cooking with gas. All you have to do is make the dough and you’re ready to go!
In a large bowl pour about 1-2 cups of water. Add in about 2 cups of corn meal flour and a tsp or so of salt. Mix it around with your hands. It should form a light not-quite-wet dough. This is a bit tricky so don’t be frustrated. I had an expert to teach me!

Once your dough is ready, roll it into balls roughly the size of a clementine. Then get out some plastic wrap and place it on a flat surface. Add a little Saffola to your hands (or whatever oil you’re using) and add some to the plastic wrap as well. This will keep it from sticking. Then, grab your balls!

Press the ball down with your hands onto the plastic wrap making a flat disc. Push in the sides to avoid cracks. Once the disc is about 1/4 inch thick you are ready to fill it.

Stick your meat on one side of the disc making sure not to add too much. I think you know where we are going. It must be a small enough amount of meat so the empanada can close. Add some cheese. Once your meat is in place, use the plastic wrap to fold up so the other half of the disc, without meat,  over the half with meat. Like this:

Through the plastic wrap press down on the edges so that the empanada seals. It should now look like a little half moon. Using a small cereal bowl or really any kind of bowl you might have around, press along the edge of the empanada (through the plastic) with the edge of the bowl, to create a nice edge. Repeat until you have used all of the dough.

We put the beef by itself most of the time and paired up the chicken filling with the potato. Yumtastic.

In about a half an inch of Saffola oil fry each empanada on each side for about 4-5 minutes.

Rana looks on as Devon attempts his first solo empanada.

That’s about it. These are one of those labors of love. Once you know how to make them, you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it all of your life.

An excited group of empanada eaters!

A huge thanks to Omaira Borges, our amazing friend who shared her family recipe with us! Until next time, Enjoy!

Labels: Venezuelan, dinner, main, meat

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