Thursday, February 25, 2010

Easy Cheesy Empanadas

Wikipedia defines: An empanada is a Spanish and Portuguese stuffed bread or pastry, also known as "impanada" in Italy. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Empanada is made by folding a dough or bread patty around the stuffing. In Spain, empanadas are usually large and circular in shape and are cut into smaller portions for consumption, whereas in Portugal and South America empanadas are normally small and semi-circular (this type of empanada is commonly known as empanadilla in Spain).

It is important to note, I am NOT USING typical empanada dough which can be found in Spanish grocery stores or supermarkets with a large Spanish population. The dough is similar to that of pot pie crust or what;s used for Jamaican beef patties. But my aunt Carol put me on to the delicious crispy egg roll wraps a few years ago and I much prefer the texture and less doughiness.

The great thing about this recipe is versatility! When I see my fresh veggies about to spoil, I don't want to throw them out, so I saute whatever I have on hand into the skillet along with my ground meat (beef, chicken, or turkey). Are you a vegetarian? No problem! Just skip the meat and add in more vegetables.

I often use zucchini, onions, shredded carrots, mushroom, green pepper and canned corn. But this time, I was pressed for time and thought I would try a bag of frozen mixed veggies that I found in Target. I'm telling you, no matter what you choose you cannot mess this up! If you used any canned items, just remember to drain them first :-)

  • A few cups of Canola oil (or your favorite frying oil) 
  • 1 pack of ground meat (*or make it completely vegetarian!)
  • "Archer Farms" brand Corn & Blackbean Seasoned Blend frozen mix
  • Egg Roll wrap (found in your produce section, usually with the tofu) I used Nasoya.
  • Taco Seasoning (or season with your own spices) I used a packet of Old El Paso Taco Seasoning
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (what I had on hand was Kraft Sharp Cheddar) you can use your favorite shredded cheese blend
  • Optional condiments: sour cream, salsa, guacamole
  • Large skillet with a top, small dish, tongs or utensil to remove empanadas from hot oil, dish lined with paper towel
  1. (Optional) brown your choice of meat and drain most of excess fat
  2. Add in frozen veggie mix or your choice of things from your fridge (cover and saute until thoroughly cooked)
  3. Stir in seasoning and mix well 
  4. Drain
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool
  6. Add canola or other frying oil in a frying pan (about 1 inch deep) and set to med-high heat
  7. Prepare a plate or cutting board with flour to prevent Egg Wrap dough from sticking and small dish of water for sealing the dough
  8. Place one square of dough on floured surface
  9. Add a small handful of shredded cheese to the middle of the square
  10. Place a large spoonful of your meat/veggie mixture on top of cheese
  11. Fold one corner in towards the center, dab with a dot of water from your dish and then fold in the opposite corner to overlap and stick (If you find that it was hard for your corners to meet and the filling is overflowing out of the sides, this is the time to remove some of your filling)
  12. Use your fingertip to make a line of water along the edge of one of the remaining opens flaps and fold in towards the middle. Make sure to seal that wet edge on top of the 2 opposing corners that have already met in the middle (see photo in slideshow)
  13. Seal the last flap in the same way. ***If the dough rips while you are folding, finish the folding and then wrap in an addition egg roll wrapper for reinforcement.
  14. Place completed empanadas on a plate to rest while you keep making more. You want to fry 2 at a time. These cook quickly and you don't want to be occupied prepping more while they are cooking because they will burn.
  15. Check oil for readiness. Try dropping a drop of water in. If oil is not hot enough, keeping folding more. 
  16. Place 2 empanadas (folded side down) into hot oil. Let cook about 2 min on each side or until golden brown. (Don't walk away, these will burn quickly)
  17. Flip and brown the opposite side.
  18. Try to drain as much oil off of the empanadas into the pan before placing on a dish lined with paper towels for cooling.
  19. Top with your favorite condiments for Spanish food and ENJOY! I suggest serving with a tossed salad.

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