Recipe: Venezuelan Empanadas (Difficulty Level: Hard)
I’m lucky enough to live in a pretty diverse area. There’s nothing I can’t get in NYC as far as food is concerned. 10 minutes in the car can place me in the heart of Flushing for authentic Asian cuisine or in Jackson Heights for great Colombian. Empanadas are not something I am ever going to try to make because for less than a dollar I can eat something authentic and bursting with flavor. But not everyone has these luxuries — if you are up for a challenge, I give you the Venezuelan Empanada!
For the Fillings:
- 1 1/2 pounds beef blade roast, cut into 4 pieces, trimmed
- 4 bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons sazon completa (Spanish seasoning blend, found in the spice aisle)
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Freshly ground pepper
For the Dough:
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for greasing and frying
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 1/2 cups precooked cornmeal (such as P.A.N. brand)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
For the Sauce:
- 1 1/4 cups cilantro (leaves and stems)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
- 1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 4 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Make the filling: Place the beef, bay leaves, 1 tablespoon salt and water to cover in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the meat is almost falling apart, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer the meat to a bowl and shred with a fork; cool. Reserve the broth.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and shallot; cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the scallion, paprika, sazon completa, oregano, cumin and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add the beef and 1 cup of the reserved broth and cook over medium heat until thick, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.
- Make the dough: Mix 3 1/2 cups hot water, the sugar, vegetable oil, butter and salt in a medium bowl until the butter melts. Stir in the cornmeal and flour until a soft dough forms, then knead on a clean surface until the dough comes together. Shape into 12 balls, using about 1/2 cup dough for each.
- One at a time, sprinkle each dough ball with water, place between two pieces of lightly oiled heavy-duty plastic wrap (a cut resealable bag works well) and roll into a 7-inch circle. Remove the top sheet of plastic and place 2 to 3 tablespoons filling in the center of the dough. Use the bottom piece of
- plastic to fold the dough in half over the filling and press to seal. Trim into a half-moon shape with a knife or press down with the round edge of a bowl. Remove the plastic and place the empanada on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet until a deep-fry thermometer registers 365 degrees F. Fry the empanadas in batches until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet; keep warm in the oven.
- Make the sauce: Combine the cilantro, olive oil, avocado, bell pepper, scallion, vinegar and garlic in a blender. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper and puree until smooth. Thin out the sauce with up to 1/4 cup water and serve with the empanadas.
Thanks to the Food Network!!!
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