Empanadas al Gaucho

 
Updated 8/31/2011 7:59 AM

pound ground chuck, 90 percent lean

pound ground pork

3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1 medium red pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped

1 medium poblano pepper, roasted, seeded and chopped

6 ounces green Spanish olives (deli quality preferred), pitted and diced

2 ounces dark raisins

1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

lime

teaspoon sweet paprika

teaspoon ground cumin

teaspoon ground black pepper

teaspoon dry thyme

Dash of salt

Sauce

4 ounces olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons diced red onion

2 minced garlic cloves

4 ounces chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

18 store-bought empanada shells (Goya brand preferred)

4 cups canola oil, for frying

For the filling: Make this the day before serving. Brown the ground chuck and pork in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat chopping up the meat with a spatula, but leaving some small chunks. Drain grease and set aside.

Wipe pan and heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and cook over medium heat until starting to golden. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add cooked meat, chopped peppers and eggs, olives, raisins, lime juice, any liquid given off by the roasted peppers, spices, 2 tablespoons olive oil and vinegar. Mix well and gently to avoid breaking up eggs too much more. Store in air tight container over night.

For the sauce: Mix the oil, vinegar, red onion, garlic and cilantro until well combined; salt and pepper to taste. Store overnight in airtight container at room temperature.

When ready to cook: Heat filling in microwave enough to bring it to a warm temperature (about 2 minutes on HIGH stirring once half way through)

Place generous amount of filling in center of an empanada shell. Wet the outer ring slightly with water, fold in half, gently press out filling, seal the empanada with fingers pressing down length of the semi circle. Take a fork and make small indentations around the edge to seal. Repeat with remaining shells.

Heat canola oil in a large deep 10-inch pan to a frying temperature. Fry empanadas three at a time turning frequently until shell is golden brown on both sides. Set on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb any excess oil.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Take a bite of empanada, spoon a bit of sauce into shell; add more sauce with each bite, if desired.

Makes 18.

About this recipe: This recipe has sentimental value for me as it conjures up fond childhood memories. While uniquely my version, these empanadas are similar to the ones my parents would serve, much to the delight of all, at their frequent, large dinner parties as the appetizer. Empanadas were relatively unknown in the states at the time, so this was truly a rare, authentic Argentine treat for their newfound friends. Now I'm known for them. They make a great party treat and are ideal for tailgating as eating them at room temperature is just fine.

Oscar Menoyo, Schaumburg