Tag Archives: Condiments

{ Beef Empanadas with Avocado Dipping Sauce }

I’ve been back in the States for about 1 month now, and have been taking full advantage of enjoying my much missed American grub (Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, Wawa milkshakes, Five Guys burger’s, and the like). But then yesterday, a very unexpected thing occurred–I was struck by an empanada craving. This took me by surprise because I swore that I would never want another empanada upon leaving South America. Not because I don’t like them, but because I had consumed so many over my 6 months there.

Empanadas are the beating heart of Argentine cuisine, and the epitome of South American fast food. They are as beloved and frequently consumed as French fries are by Americans.  And, since you may have already gathered, I’m not one to deny myself food indulgences, I ate up empanadas like I would never be able to get them again after I returned home. I would start off the day with a ham and ricotta one from La Cocina, then grab a spicy chicken one from Na Serapia on my walk to class, and the Kobe beef ones from La Cabrera made a perfect appetizer before my gut-dropping, artery-clogging, 200mg t-bone steak.

Then after months of ordering empanadas out (everywhere from 5 star restaurants to hole-in-the-wall pizza dives that Guy Fieri only wishes he could find), I decided to try making them myself. I didn’t think they would be nearly as good as the authentic Argentine ones, but when they turned out equally delicious, I knew that I had embarked on something detrimental to my health (not to mention, slender physic). Empanadas were no longer something only savored outside of the home, they were a new refrigerator staple, my go-to drunk snack, and my favorite food to experiment with in cooking. I created all sorts of crazy empanada fillings and flavor combinations, and each one had a unique dipping sauce paired with it.

You see, dipping sauce was my American twist on the Argentine classic. Lets face it, we are a nation in love with condiments- a people that put ketchup and hot sauce on any and every thing, a generation of extra dressing on the siders, and yes, I’m talking to you, all my heavy handed salt shakers. Condiments are the cornerstone of American food. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the boutique burgers being served up in our country. Forget lettuce, tomato, and onion. We don’t want it unless its got foie gras, truffled mushrooms, carmalized onions, Kobe beef, and a price tag of about 15 dollars. Condiments = deliciousness.

So without further ado (sorry for my condiment digression), I present to you my recipe for spicy beef empanadas with DELICIOUS spicy avocado dipping sauce!

{ Ingredients }

For the Avocado Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 roasted jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Dash of Tobasco or Cholula hot sauce
{ Directions } Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until smooth. Adjust seasoning to preference.

For the Spicy Beef Empanadas:

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 20 pre-packaged frozen empanada shells (I use Goya or Saltena brands)

 { To Make the Beef Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

{ To Assemble the Empanadas } Defrost empanada shells and preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking spray.

Dip the tip of your finger in warm water and moisten 1/2 the rim of the empanada shell, making a half-moon motion. Spoon the empanada filling into the center of the dough and fold over half-wise, pinching the edges between your fingers so that the dough seals around the meat pocket.

Place the empanada on the prepared baking sheet and firmly press down on the edges with the back of a fork to enforce the closure.

Then, using a silicone brush, gently apply an egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 tablespoon water) to the tops of the empanadas. This helps them to get shiny and golden in the oven.

Repeat this process until you have finished making all of the empanadas. Place the baking sheet into the oven and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, until the tops are golden.

Remove from oven and serve with avocado dipping sauce.

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{ Jalapeno Cheddar Mini-burgers and Chipotle Aioli }

Jalapeno Cheddar Mini-Burgers

Words of wisdom from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle:

Burger Shack Employee- “Just thinking about those tender little White Castle burgers, with those little itty bitty grilled onions that just explode in your mouth like flavor crystals every time you bite into one…”

Harold- “I want that. I want that feeling. We gotta go to White Castle. I am so hungry. I’m gonna eat, like, 20 of those little burgers, man.”

Kumar- “Dude, I will see your 20 burgers and raise you 5 orders of fries.”

Fact: Everyone loves and craves a thick juicy hamburger from time to time. Vegetarians, don’t even kid yourselves, I know you do too. You just have more self-control than the rest of us and I’m still in the process of trying to decide whether I find that admirable or insane. Anyways, with the economy down the past couple of years, Americans are beginning to downsize the many aspects of their lives. Toll Brothers is building smaller homes, people are starting drive smaller cars (they finally realized that gas prices will never be below $2 again…goodbye H2), and the biggest names in burgers are producing mini-burgers faster than you can say recession.

White Castle first introduced the mini-burger concept back in 1921, dubbing their creation the “Slyder.” Today, many people refer to all small burgers as “sliders,” but this is just incorrect. Society is so focused on being politically correct, but lets get our culinary terms straight too while we are at it! You see, in order for a miniature burger to be a true slider, it must be a very thin slip of beef cooked atop onions and garnished with pickles. The steam from the onions does as much cooking as the griddle, and the burger buns absorb their pungent aroma. This is the method of preparation still used at White Castle today—that’s if you can manage to find a White Castle, of course. I think Harold and Kumar prove that it can be a rather long and difficult journey!

On the other hand, mini-burgers (a reduction of the same old thing we know and love), are popping up everywhere and they are absolutely irresistible. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of getting to eat multiple burgers (with less guilt might I add), or the ability to try out several different topping combinations, or maybe things really are better fun-sized (except women of course—coming from one that’s 5’ 9”). Whatever the reason, mini-burgers have created a loyal, almost cult-like, following all across America and I consider myself to be a “patty purveyor,” always looking for the latest and greatest in burgers. (So far my favorite mini-burgers are; (1) STK’s made with Japanese Wagyu Beef, secret sauce, truffle mushrooms, and sesame bun, and (2) Sugarcane’s made with Kobe beef, tonkatsu sauce, and fried quail egg).

I knew that I wanted mini-burgers for my birthday, so I decided try my hand at making my own! I made Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers and Mushroom Swiss burgers. Just fold the desired amount of your toppings into some ground sirloin beef, season with salt and pepper, and mold into 3 ounce patties with your hands. Then simply grill to desired cooking temperature! I purchased whole wheat slider buns from Wegmans, and made this Spicy Chipotle Aioli as a condiment. The aioli turned out awesome and I have since been eating it with chicken and using it as spread for sandwiches. It will hold for quite some time in your refrigerator, so don’t hesitate to make a lot.

{ Ingredients for Chipotle Aioli }

 

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

{ To Make Chipotle AioliCombine all ingredients in a food processor and puree. Adjust levels of adobo sauce, salt, and pepper to taste preference.

Spicy Chipotle Aioli

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