To close the Christmas season I have decided to do it with the recipe to make empanadas, another popular Christmas dish in Colombia, just like the buñuelos and natilla. And even though Colombians enjoy empanadas more during the month of December, they eat them throughout the year.
The most famous in Colombia are the “church empanadas”. Each parish has a group of volunteers who prepare, cook and sell empanadas outside each church to raise funds. My grandmother proudly volunteered at one of these groups and she would always be seen happily selling her empanadas to donate her two cents.
And just like each family has its own recipe to make buñuelos and natilla, the same thing happens with the recipe to make empanadas. Some make them with yellow corn meal, others with white corn meal, some make them with beef, others with chicken, with guiso (seasoned sauce), without guiso, with potato, without potato. But, they’re all very tasty. The trick is to season the whole empanada, from the dough all the way through the guiso in the filling. That way each bite is filled with that delicious Colombian flavor. What I do recommend is that you use the same corn meal that is used to make arepas.
And like always… enjoy!
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IngredientsApprox. 22 medium empanadas
2 large brown potatoes
Water (enough to cover the potatoes)
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup (90 g) red bell pepper, chopped
½ cup (100 g) tomatoes, chopped (peeled and seeded)
1 tbsp onion powder (you can substitute ½ cup green onion, chopped)
½ tsp salt
½ cup (25 g) cilantro, chopped (optional)
¼ tsp ground cumin
1 lb. ground beef (you can also use whatever type of beef you prefer)
3 cups (720 ml) hot water
1 chicken bouillon
1 envelope Sazón Goya with Achiote or Azafrán (you can also use ½ tbsp Triguisar or color)
1 tsp salt 1 tbsp softened butter 3 cups (450 gr) pre-cooked white corn meal
Oil for frying (vegetable, canola, corn)
Peel and cut the potatoes into small cubes. Put them in a pot, cover them with enough water and add salt. Cook for about 20-25 minutes on medium heat or until soft.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and roughly mash them.
To make the dough, add hot water to a large bowl, add the chicken bouillon, Sazón Goya, salt and butter. Stir well to mix all of the ingredients.
4. Slowly add the cornmeal to the water and stir with a big spoon. When all of the corn meal has been added, work the dough with your hands until it becomes soft. Let rest for 20 minutes.
Add oil to a large pan on medium heat. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, tomatoes, onion powder, salt, cilantro, and cumin. Cook this guiso (sauce) for about 5 minutes.
6. Add the beef to the guiso and cook it thoroughly.
7. Add the mashed potatoes and mix well to make the filling.
8. To make the empanadas, put a small ball of dough in the center of a tortilla press covered with plastic and press to flatten it. You can also put the small ball of dough between two pieces of plastic and flatten it with a small saucepan.
9. Add a tablespoon of the filling. Fold the circle of dough in half to form a half moon.
Cut off the edge of the half moon with a cup or drinking glass. This will shape your empanada and seal it at the same time. Another way to make them is pressing the edge with your fingers and folding the extra dough inwards,
this will prevent the filling from coming out during frying.
Once you have all of your empanadas ready, you can fry them in a deep frier with enough oil at 350ºF (180ºC). You can also fry them on the stove at medium high temperature.
12. Fry the empanadas for 6-7 minutes or until golden brown. Then put them on a paper towels to drain them.
13. Serve them hot with Colombian hot sauce and lime wedges.
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