**WARNING** The following is NOT intended for the light-hearted, kitchen-fearing mamas or papas! Proceed with great CAUTION!**
So here's the back story:
We have friends who host a wine-tasting/pairing party each fall. Guests pair up with other couples to compete in categories: Best Wine, Best Food, and the coup (I'm mixing my French and Spanish here, aren't I?): Best Pairing. I, ah-hem, am proud to say that I have been the food-providing part of the winners of Best Pairing for the last 2 years in a row. (I have a secret, but I will not share it here, as I know some of my readers attend this party...) (and yes, I'm a little competitive!) (sorry!) This last year, our wine-providing friends chose an Argentinean Malbec (a dark colored, full-flavored red wine). And I made Argentinean Empanadas...
First, you need something sunny and fresh to inspire you... mostly because this is a labor-intensive, sweat-producing, feet-hurting recipe. Just sayin'. It is. Truth.
Then, enlist a friend...
...Or two, to keep you company and to help with clean-up, 'cause when you get tired, you might get a little messy.
Pam, and a little bit o' butter for sauteing onions
2 onions, chopped
1 lb of good quality chopped meat (I used sirloin, or low fat beef)
2 tsp Hungarian sweet paprika (or just sweet paprika)
3/4 tsp hot paprika
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbs distilled whited vinegar
1/4 C raisins
1/2 C pitted green olives, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets (I used 2 packages)
(The original recipe also called for 2 hard-boiled eggs, and, well... I just couldn't stomach that... eggs, olives, raisins...? Trust me, it's fine without the eggs! I also didn't have any fancy paprika, so I just used my regular paprika in the quantities stated above. Also, just fine!)
Chop, chop, chop away. This is probably the most time-consuming part. I mean, you have to stop every 30 seconds to wipe the tears away! PLLLLeaaasssse!
Saute the chopped meat until cooked through. Drain very well, and set aside to allow to cool and harden. Stir in the vinegar & cumin. Saute the onions in butter, because, sorry! It tastes best that way. But be careful; use the butter sparingly. If the filling is too greasy, it will affect the dough. Saute until the onions are almost translucent. Add the paprika & pepper flakes and saute just a few seconds longer. The heat "opens" up the spices and makes the flavors a little more intense.
Mix together the meat, onion mixture, olives and raisins. (Doesn't that just sound gross? But it is really good. Trust me on this, too!) Salt and pepper to taste. Don't be skimpy with the peppa...
It's about here that your feet might start to hurt. (Did I remember to tell you to wear your favorite, most cushy gym shoes? Definitely do that.)
Cut about 3.5" circles from the pastry. I happen to have the perfect sized plastic monkey cup to accomplish this! I was able to get about 9 circles from each sheet of pastry. And I was thinking about this. If you made bigger circles, you would have bigger empanadas with more filling in each. It would save you time in construction, and you would eat less dough (for you carb-watchers, you!) per serving. Just a thought.
Here's the fun part, and the part where you need to call in your dog friends! Put about a tablespoon of filling in each circle. Use water with your (cleaned) finger along the outside edge of 1/2 of the circle. Be careful to not get the meat mixture on the edges because the grease will prevent the empanadas from sealing. Then, using your fingers, pinch the edges together. And you can sorta wrap the edges around your fingers as you're sealing and make it really pretty (but you don't have to).
Sometimes, they will come out perfectly and look like they are store-bought, like this...
... and sometimes, they'll look more "homemade", like this.
Brush them with egg, put them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet, and bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
For sides, serve with oh-so-easy boxed Spanish rice, chips and home-made guacamole and salsa. And extra red pepper sauce for those who like it spicy. And red wine. Don't forget the wine.
Serve alfresco (and there's some Italian for ya, too) to an eagerly awaiting, most deserving family. (Did I mention, don't forget the wine?)