Beef Empanadas

When we lived in Tampa, I used to buy bootleg empanadas from an Argentinian in the parking lot of an Italian restaurant.

Now that we live in Nashville, I have to prepare my empanadas in my own kitchen. Which is probably more sanitary, but totally less interesting.

The following recipe is not nearly as good as Arturo’s trunk goodies, but they are a pretty darn good replication.

They aren’t the easiest nor the most authentic, but worth every minute over the stove.

Beef Empanadas

(This recipe makes about 40-45 empanadas—perfect for a crowd. Make ahead, then briefly heat in the oven for about 5 minutes to crisp up.)

Filling:

2 lbs ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes

1/4-1/2 cup rough chopped green olives
3 hard-boiled eggs, rough chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

Dough:

40-45 frozen empanada discs, defrosted (Goya recommended)
Vegetable oil for frying

1.) Brown ground beef in large skillet until no longer pink. Add onions, jalapeño, and garlic and cook until soft.

2.) Add spices and tomatoes, cook for a few minutes and then add olives and eggs. Season with salt and pepper and then add the cilantro at the last minute. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your tastes, then set aside. (Filling can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

3.) When ready to assemble, place 1-2 tablespoons of filling into the center of a defrosted dough disc, and fold over to seal. Crimp edges like a pie so filling does not leak through during frying. Place stuffed empanadas on a cookie sheet until ready to fry.

Empanadas before their Wesson makeover

4.) Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large, deep skillet. Fry a few at a time being careful not to over-crowd the pan. Fry for only 1-2 minutes on both sides being careful not to over-brown. They cook quite quickly. Drain on paper towels while cooking the next batch.

At this point, they are ready to eat, but if you want to do a couple of hours ahead of time, you can placed the cooked empanadas in a 350 oven for 5-10 minutes making sure not to get too browned or the filling will start to leak and get tough.

5.) Trunk sales optional.

After.

©2014 Tracey Henry

I should just walk

The only sandwich you can eat in my car
The only sandwich you can eat in my car

After almost two decades along my journey through motherhood, I finally felt as if I’d grown out of the minivan phase and could log the remaining miles in a vehicle that wasn’t the mom jeans of the automobile industry.

It’s not that the van didn’t serve it’s purpose (of aging me 15 years) for a time when the kids were smaller, but it was time to move on and up to a more age-appropriate and respectable car.

Despite being born and raised in Detroit, purchasing a new vehicle is not one of my favorite things. I certainly like driving a nice car, but the procurement of said automobile is painful and tedious in my opinion. The negotiating process makes me want punch babies, so I have abandoned this task to my conflict-loving husband many years ago.

It’s worked out well until now.

On our recent new car purchase, my husband dutifully chose, negotiated and secured our family roadster. My only request was that it wasn’t a minivan, and all doors must open instead of slide sickeningly along a Cheeto-laden track. All that was left for me to do was drive in the old van for the trade-in assessment (which I had judged to be about 46 cents and a tetanus shot) and pick up the new car. I see now it was here when things took their turn down a dark path.

Conversation with salesperson as I waited an hour for appraisal on trade-in. (I can only assume it took this long to pry an old sippy cup from the dash board covering the VIN number.)

Me: So while I’m waiting, can we look at the car since I haven’t seen it yet?

Salesperson: We have to special order your car, we don’t have it here.

Me: That’s okay, I can look at something similar.

Salesperson: We really don’t have anything close to what you ordered on the lot.

Me: (Confused.) Um, okay. How about if I just look at a brochure?

Salesperson: (Looks nervous. Exits quickly.)

15 minutes later Salesperson returns not making eye contact.

Salesperson: I’m sorry, we have no brochures and I can’t even show you a depiction online because yours is so different that IT WOULD CONFUSE YOU.

At this moment I should have grabbed the keys to my old van, prayed the thimble of gas I left in it would have held me past the dealership driveway and returned immediately to the compound where Moms like me aren’t subjected to confusing things like paint and interior color differences.

But I didn’t. I guess I was indeed confused wondering why my husband had purchased a vehicle enrolled in the witness protection program and why my new car was as embarrassed to drive me as I was of my old one and it hadn’t even seen my jeans yet.

And while this was annoying, insulting, asinine and unacceptable; IT WASN’T A MINIVAN and therefore worth the humiliation.

And ultimately my personal safety, because before I had time to preset my radio to the folk music and NPR stations, I had to make an emergency return to the dealership when I noticed a slight problem with the brakes: I had none.

Driving into the dealership service department:

Me: (Shaking)This brand new car has no brakes. I can’t believe I made it here alive.

Salesperson: You probably have the emergency brake on–new cars take some getting used to and this one’s got a little more power than your van.

Me: The emergency brake is indeed on now because I had to apply it in order not to mow down the customers in your showroom because I HAVE NO BRAKES.

Salesperson: (Condescendingly.) I’m sure it’s user error. Why don’t you go into the lounge and have a glass of sweet tea while the mechanics look at it.

Salesperson returns 15 minutes later. Looks nervous, avoids eye contact.

Salesperson: Well, it looks like there are no brake cylinders in that car of yours. They all have to be replaced.

Me: How does that happen?

Salesperson: Not real sure–should never have passed inspection. Regardless, it’s unsafe to drive.

Me: No shit.

Salesperson: I’ll tell you what I’m going to do–I’m going to set you up in a rental free of charge while we order new parts.

Me: That’s the least you could do…

Salesperson: Let me put you into this nice minivan for the time being….

So it turns out I really wasn’t ready to put the minivan in my rearview mirror after all.

Salesperson: No shit.

**********

 

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The Best Roadtrip Steak Sandwich Ever

1 loaf of French Bread
1 nicely-sized flank steak
1 jar of roasted red peppers
1 ripe avocado, peeled and sliced
1 4 oz. package of goat cheese
arugula
olive oil, salt and pepper

1.) Grill flank steak seasoned with garlic salt or salt and pepper on the grill or grill pan on the stove about 6 minutes per side or until medium rare. Set aside to rest at least 15 minutes. Slice steak thinly on an angle against the grain.

2.) Cut French bread in half on an angle and then slice down the middle horizontally so you have two sandwiches. Drizzle the bottom bread slices with olive oil then lay the steak slices all along the bottom.

3.) On top of the steak, layer the peppers, goat cheese, and avocado. Top with arugula, and drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Replace top bread slice, and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for a couple of hours to let the flavors develop, but not too long so the bread and arugula gets soggy.

4.) Pack in cooler and pass up every fast food joint on the interstate in your new or old car.

 

©2013 Tracey Henry