We all have eaten something somewhere at some point that leaves us days later waiting, wishing, hoping for a magical second or third serving to appear. Most of the time these foods are not the usual “Tuesday Night Tuna Casserole”. These foods are heavenly. They dance around in our head with halos over them calling for us in our dreams. No surprise they are usually a challenge to replicate.
Well, what if your partner had a list of magical life changing treats that they missed from their childhood. Things you have NEVER eaten or cooked? One could….
A) Find a local place that sells them and be completely disappointed with their version.
B) Stalk his mother to get her to translate her recipe from Spanish to English.
C) Google your heart out. Compare 12 different recipes to figure out which ingredients are constant and which are “optional”. Take your research to the love of your life to get his input. Then, finally step foot on the dusty road of trial and error until you end up with a product that looks similar to Google images.
D) Pretend like it is no big deal if they never experience that joyful food again.
Since I’m such a loving caring considerate girl friend who might just happen to have a deep infatuation with Latin/Spanish cuisine a select few of his favorites have been re-developed through approach “C”.
What is worth all of this devotion you ask?
One example, beef empanadas of course!
Disclosure: The following is based on my personal pallet and seasoning preferences. I am not claiming that these are authentic empanadas. They have been created based on my own opinion and the man’s feedback.
Last weekend I visited a local farmers market where you buy larger quantizes of produce for very very cheap! The trip did save my wallet from unnecessary pain but it left me with my hands full of green peppers and cilantro.
Sofrito is a pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro season blend which is a base for many Puerto Rican traditional dishes, especially beef empanadas!
It is simple to make but takes some time to prep. Also, the exact ratios are difficult to measure. This is the definition of an “eyeball measuring” recipe. You can buy this stuff premade at the grocery but the flavor does not compare to the fresh stuff. Think jarred El Passo salsa verses real salsa – OR – Keg beer verses bottled beer.
This is the site I reference to make my sofrito (man approved). They use supersized qualities and various methods but here is my version. It includes the sacrifice of one of these…. Guess which one?
Spanglish Sofrito Ratios:
2 – Medium Onions (chopped)
1.5 – Medium Green Peppers (chopped)
3 – Small Sweet Red Peppers (chopped)
8- Green Olives (whole) **Optional** I loath’em but he loves’em and you can barely taste’em.
1/3 Cup – Whole Garlic Cloves (I’m a cheater and use the pre-peeled cloves, shame on me!)
FULL hand of Fresh Cilantro (steams and all)
10-15 Fresh Culantro Blades
1TBSP – Oil
Put everything in the food processor and mix until completely pureed. The end.
It will keep in the frig for 2 weeks in a sealed jar. I usually take the leftovers and divided them into ice cube trays and freeze for future use.
Okay now that the hard part is done :wipes sweat:
Let’s move on to the main event, adapted from the one and only Goya Foods.
Spanglish Beef Empanadas
1LB Lean Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion (Chopped)
6OZ Tomato Sauce
10 Green Olives (Sliced)
3 Packets Sazon with Achiote
6-8 Cloves of Minced Garlic
1 TBSP Dried Oregano
1TBSP Olive Oil
1 Package White Goya “Discos” (In the freezer Section) – Maybe in Culinary School I will master making homemade dough?
Oil for Frying
1. Heat oil in a skillet (medium heat)
4. Stir in olives, sazon, oregano and sofrito.
5. Once that is mixed well add tomato sauce. Bring to low boil.
6. Lower heat to "medium low" and simmer until mixture has thickened. (About 10-15mins)
7. At this point be sure to begin to heat your frying oil to HIGH heat.
I usually use the infamous “Deep Fryer” but this time I didn’t! I went old school with a deep skillet on the stove top with fresh canola oil in it. Best decision ever! They came out much more crisp and the dough didn’t absorb as much oil.
8. Place one “disco” on a plate.
Put a heaping scoop of the thickened beef mixture in the center of the disc.
Now it is time to seal these beauties!
9. Dip your finger in water and trace the edge of the disc with your moist finger.
10. Fold dough over. Make sure beef filling is completely centered. You do not want any of the filling to touch the area that you moistened.
11. Use a fork to press the dough to the opposite side to seal.
12. Fry until crispy (honestly - just a minute or two)