Tonight for Shabbat dinner, I decided to make an appetizer to remember my Uncle Alfred’s life in Colombia. We have a large Argentinian community here and with that comes delicious Argentinian empanadas, but empanadas are found all over South American, including Colombia. I decided to try making empanadas with a masa dough and beef filling. I used top sirloin ground beef instead of steak.
Note: If you your dough is too wet, add a little flour to the mixture until it is elastic.
1 cup peeled boiling potatoes cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
2 cups sirloin steak, 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, white and pale green parts
1 cup seeded and diced ripe tomatoes
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. roasted garlic
2 cups fine-ground cornmeal
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
2 1/4 cups hot chicken stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water
Place the potatoes in a small saucepan and cover with cold salted water. Cover and bring to a boil, then boil until just tender, about 5 minutes, and drain.
Meanwhile, in a large non reactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the sirloin and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for 1 minute. Add the cooked potatoes and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
To make the dough, in a large bowl, mix the garlic with the remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Add the cornmeal, salt, pepper and parsley. Add most of the hot stock and mix just until well combined — the dough should be sticky and elastic. Add more stock only if needed. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to let the dough set. Cover your work surface with plastic wrap and turn out the dough onto it. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap and roll the dough flat with a rolling pin, using short strokes, until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Without removing the plastic wrap, and using a cup about 4 inches in diameter, cut out rounds of dough.
Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap. Clear out the dough between the rounds and reserve. With a pastry brush, brush the edges of each round with the beaten egg. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on the lower half of each disk. Working on one empanada at a time, grab the plastic wrap and use it to fold the dough over to create a half-moon shape. Pressing through the plastic wrap, gently seal the empanada with the edge of the cup. Remove from the plastic wrap and set aside on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining empanadas, re-rolling the scraps of dough until it is all used up.
Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a heavy medium-size pot, or heat the oil in a deep fryer. When the oil is hot, about 365 F (use a bit of leftover dough to test it; the dough should quickly puff and turn gold), drop four empanadas into it and fry until golden. Remove and drain on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining empanadas.