Friday, November 29, 2013

Empanadas, beef and vegetarian

As tasted at Milonga Sin Nombre, Especial el la Gitana Rusa :)

Relleno de carne (inspired by Frida Franco)
Makes a dozen large beef empanadas, more smaller ones

4 medium-to-small onions, chopped
2 4 oz organic beef patties (Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup frozen green peas
2 small potatoes, peeled and cooked
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, black pepper, olive oil, green olives

Sautee onions on high heat till lightly golden brown, reduce heat and add beef, keep stirring until it browns, but not any longer. Remove the pan from the burner now. Add spices, salt, and peas (no need to cook them, they'll thaw in the remaining heat of the frying pan and that's all you need to do with them). Add mashed taters and olives. All done now. 

Frida says that one can't make relleno de carne any worse by adding even more onions; that olives are better added whole rather than sliced as we did; that hardboiled chopped eggs are a great addition; and that, although I totally made up the peas and the potatoes, these are legit ingredients in some Argentinian provinces.

Killer ginger spinach tofu empanada filling (inspired by Tho Bui)

Makes two dozen small spinach empanadas. Be warned that this recipe doesn't actually contain any spinach. I mean I'm OK with the classic Argentine empanadas de espinaca, but I thought that our vegetarian-minded tangueros deserve a more savory version. Oh, and I chose amaranth because it settles down less when it wilts in the heat. You'd need a taller pile of fresh spinach to get the same end volume, and it may be too hard for me to stir enough of it to fill two dozens empanadas.

pinkie-size chunk of ginger root
half clove of garlic (hey we are all tangueros here and we use the stuff very sparingly)
half cap chopped zucchini
1 small onion, chopped
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
12 oz amaranth (Amaranthus gangeticus), carefully washed and cut into half-inch pieces, stems and leaves but of course no roots.
1/2 pack medium-firm tofu
extra light olive oil
sauces per description

Finely chop ginger and garlic, sautee until very lightly browned (ginger hits the pan first and garlic, a short while later). Scoop them out and set aside. Now we are getting into a frantic stir-fry mode, with onions first, zukes and red pepper next, and finally amaranth a.k.a. Taiwanese spinach topped with previously set aside roasted ginger and garlic. Last goes tofu, soy sauce, and your fav flavorings such as oyster sauce, a couple drops of sesame oil, a few drops of Sriracha... I did a very unthinkable thing and cut on sauces but used salt to reduce juices (in the Far East, all salt must come from sauces or pickles, and you should never use straight salt, but I was afraid that my relleno will have too much liquid). Perhaps next time I'll throw in some finely scissors-cut, undercooked sweet potato thread noodles to soak in the juices?

And what about the dough?
Do not sweat it. A tanguero isn't supposed to work "too" hard. Get frozen jumbo white rolls dough in a store. Set them on flour-dusted trays in a reasonably warm place, covered by plastic lest their surface dries, for 2+ hours. Once they thaw and start rising, divide each roll into 4 parts for a small empanada, or 3 parts for a biggie. 

Shape each piece into a ball and let them rise, under plastic, for another half an hour. Now it's time to roll (palm size for smallies, two palms for biggies) and fill (try your best to rope-pinch the edges, otherwise Frida won't accept your handiwork). We would like to call our pastries empanadas rusas (pirozhki would be another name),  and we have enough Argentine spirit to leave the rope-pinch edges in plain sight - please do not turn the pastries upside-down like you might have done to hide the seam in the old country. Gotta have a bright golden color? Then, after setting your empanadas on a well-buttered baking tray, brush them with egg yolk before baking. Gotta have a pliable crust? Then smear them with a softened stick of butter after baking, and transfer the still-hot pastries into bowls lined, and covered, by towels.

No comments:

Post a Comment