Friday, April 18, 2014


I've been on a huge latin food kick lately.  I just can't get enough tacos, quesadillas, fajitas, patacones, chimichurri, empanadas...and the list goes on.  Since I'm still searching for that perfect hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant here in Columbus that serves all of the above, I've been trying my hand at some of my favorite dishes in my own kitchen. Empanadas are definitely at the top of the list and what do you know, they're easy enough to make at home.  I first tried empanadas in Barcelona, near La Segrada Familia and I fell in love with their buttery, flaky crust and the powerhouse flavor packed inside.  My empanadas are dynamic, smoky and indulgent and repackaged a croissant-like crust.  They are best served hot, right out of the oven, but taste great at room temperature as well.  They can even be made in advance, frozen and cooked later on.  You gotta try these!

This recipe has many steps, but don't be intimidated.  They're all easy and the result is worth it.   

Empanadas Perfecto 
This recipe makes 8 empanadas.

For the marinade:
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves
1 t. Cumin
1 t. Smoked Paprika
1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy)
1 T. Cilantro
1/4 C. Oil
Salt & Pepper 

For the filling:
Flank Steak, cut into small cubes
1 Onion, diced
1 Red Pepper, diced

For the crust:
Puff Pastry (2 sheets)
1 Egg, beaten
Avocado, tomato & cilantro, for garnish

In a blender, pulse the citrus juice, garlic, spices, chipotle, cilantro, oil and salt & pepper.  Your mixture should be thin and a bright orange color.

Carefully pour this marinade into a big resealable bag.  Add the cubed steak and allow it to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours, or at least for 30 minutes.

Heat a couple Tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet.  When it's hot, add the onions and peppers.  Cook over medium until they have caramelized.  When they are dark and golden, remove them from the skillet and set aside to cool.  Don't skimp on their cooking time - they're going to add great flavor to the empanadas.

Remove your puff pastry from the freezer and allow it to thaw.  Preheat the oven to 400.

Reheat that same skillet over medium heat.  Add your steak with the marinade and cook over medium heat until the steak is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.  When the meat is thoroughly cooked, but not overdone, remove the skillet from the heat.  Allow to cool slightly.

Open your puff pastry and lay it flat on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Working quickly, cut the puff pastry sheet into 4 equal squares.  To each square, add about 2 Tablespoons bit of the steak and onion mixture.  Brush the left side and bottom side of each square with a bit of beaten egg so the pastry seals when it's folded.  Take the top right corner of each square and fold it over to the bottom left corner.  Use a fork to crimp the edges, sealing in that great flavor.  Slice an X on the top so the steam can escape and brush the entire triangle with beaten egg.

Pop them in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.  Serve with fresh avocado, tomato and cilantro.

If you find that you have leftover filling, use it in some tortillas or simply with an egg on top.  

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