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

Marie-Inspired Chicken and Rice

Fall. Comfort food. It is time.

This particular dish is an imperfect version of a delicious original Lebanese Chicken and Rice dish that got me through two rough periods of morning sickness cooked by a friend’s mother who probably thought I would starve to death during my last pregnancy.

Because I need this dinner for myself and people I care about more than once a year when Mrs. Nammour visits this country, I came up with this version that in no way compares to hers, but still hits the spot–pregnant or not.

In fact, it is so good, so wonderfully healing and comforting, I named my daughter after her.

Comfort in a dish.
Comfort in a dish.

Marie-Inspired Chicken and Rice

1 rotisserie chicken, cut up and bones and skin discarded
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups long grain rice
32 oz. hot chicken stock

1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds and/or pine nuts

1.) Strip chicken from bones, discard skin. Chop or shred into bite-size pieces.

2.) In small saucepan, heat chicken stock.

3.) In a large pot, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook onion and ground beef until no longer pink. Add garlic.

4.) Stir in spices and salt, cook for a minute, and then add rice and stir so that the raw rice gets well-coated and combined. (If you like a spicier dish, you may add cayenne pepper or chili flakes.)

5.) Add hot chicken stock, stir to combine, and then turn down heat to simmer. Cook about 20 minutes–checking occasionally–until rice is cooked and stock is absorbed.

6.) Add the chicken and nuts and simmer a few minutes longer.

This one pot meal is perfect to bring to a sick friend, a starving pregnant woman, or anyone in need of food for the soul.

White Turkey Chili

There’s only a week until Halloween and we have a lot to do, people. There are copious amounts of food-coloring, meat-sculpturing, vegetable-carving and other compound verbs that you never thought would be part of your late October repertoire.

Let’s get started, shall we?

I’m always on the look out for a good white chili recipe, but I haven’t found one that takes all of the elements I like into one bowl.

So I came up with this one.

It’s a true slow-cooker recipe–not one of those fake ones that makes you prepare 9/10 of the ingredients on the stovetop before putting into the crock pot. I hate those. Why bother unless you really love doing dishes.

Because this is made with ground turkey rather than beef, I think it’s well-suited to be put in the crock-pot raw. The only explanations I can find for browning first is for depth of flavor and to drain off the fat. With lean turkey, there isn’t much fat to drain off, so have at it. It will be cooked thoroughly after 8 hours.

Also, this uses dried beans rather than canned which allows the bean to hold up and still have a nice texture.

Enjoy responsibly.

Scare up a pot of this on Halloween night or anytime you need a little comfort.
Scare up a pot of this on Halloween night or anytime you need a little comfort.

White Turkey Chili

1 package lean ground turkey (it’s a little over a pound)
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package of dried white navy beans or other white bean
1 10 oz can of Rotel tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 t. pepper

32 oz carton of chicken broth
1 12 oz bottle of beer

1/2 cup heavy cream

Shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chopped scallions for toppings

1.) Put the ground turkey on the bottom of a heating slowly and break up slightly. Add next 11 ingredients and gently combine.

2.) Cook covered (duh) for either 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. If it gets dry at any point, don’t be afraid to add more broth, beer or water.

3.) With 30 minutes left to go in the cooking time, add the heavy cream and continue cooking.

4.) Serve with your favorite chili toppings, but be aware of hitchhiking ghosts.

©2013 Tracey Henry