25 September 2012


Boston isn't the largest city in the U.S. Not by a long shot. But being a college-town on steroids means that it's a cosmopolitan town that attracts scientists from around the world. Despite living the furthest from Latin America in all the years that I've lived in the U.S., there is plenty of Latin cuisine here. And that often means empanadas are served at potlucks.

Grilled empanadas

We've taken the Argentine recipe from Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way and cooked them on the grill.

Here we go. Make the dough and the filling the night before you plan to serve these tasty critters.

For the dough:
2 cups water
1 ½ tbsp salt
3 ½ tbsp lard
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour

Bring the water and salt to boil. Remove from heat, and add the lard. Stir until the lard melts, then transfer to a bowl to cool.

When it's cooled to room temperature, mix in the flour, a cup at a time, until you've added 6 cups. Flour a surface, and knead the ball of dough, adding flour until you have a stiff, dry dough.

Working the dough

Split the dough in half.

Working the dough

Wrap and place in the fridge to chill overnight.

Meanwhile, make the filling:
1 lb well-marbled sirloin
coarse salt and fresh pepper
10 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup lard
3 medium onions
1 tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
4 scallions, minced and separating green and white parts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
3 hard-boiled large eggs, coarsely chopped
½ cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
Trim the most egregious pieces of fat off of the beef. Then chop finely. Think ground beef, but not quite that fine. That's why you do it by hand, you want it to still have some texture to it, but you want it pretty fine.

Chopped beef

Chop the onions. Sauté the onions in the 6 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of lard over low heat. Cook until clear.

Sauteed onions

Add the dried spices and the white part of the scallions, sauté for a few more minutes. Your kitchen will smell ridiculous at this point. Remove from heat, and mix in the remaining scallions.

Sauteed seasoned

Meanwhile, brown the meat in the oil over high heat. Brown a little bit at a time, we're looking to sear the meat, not boil it (and if you liberate a ton of fluid, you'll end up making beef stew).

Browned meat

As you finish each batch of meat, set aside to cool. Don't make piles, we're not steaming beef here.

When everything has cooled, mix the beef, onion mixture, 3 tbsp of lard and the oregano (so glad we planted oregano in the garden this year, yum!).

Chill the mixture in the fridge overnight.

On day two, peel and chop the boiled eggs, and chop the olives.

Boiled eg

Roll out the dough to ⅛" thick.

Emanada dough

Cut out 3 ½" circles in the dough and set aside on a floured tray. Repeat until all dough is gone.

Emanada dough

Get filling, butter, olives and eggs ready. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling in a circle of dough. Add a tiny bit of butter, olives and eggs.

Emanada dough

Wet the outside of the circle of dough. Fold across the mid-line, and pinch shut with a fork.

Emanada dough

Repeat. A bunch. If you're alone because Mrs. Dude is working late, continue folding for about an hour. Heat up your grill to 350°F. Cook each tray of emapanadas by indirect heat, using a bit of cherry wood for smoke. Cook until the empanadas are nicely browned.

Remove from heat and cool.

Grilled empanadas

Serve. The lard creates a beautifully crunchy crust. And the salty, spicy, fat filling. In the language of the young folk. OMGWTFBBQ.  Really. It's that good.


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