Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Little Disappointment

I decided that last night was going to be Mexican flavor night at our house. That's a great meal to have on a busy dance night, because everything can be done ahead of time. All the vegetables can be chopped and in the fridge, the cheese can be pre-shredded, and any meat only needs to be cooked earlier in the day for a quick zap in the microwave when it's time. But I wanted something new and different to accompany our tacos, and I wanted something with beans.

I got it in my head that I wanted to make empanadas, and that they should have a black bean filling of some kind. So I did a little hunting and found a recipe on Recipezaar that I thought I'd try and make. The big change I wanted to make was to bake the empanadas instead of deep-frying them. So I inquired on the CLBB as to whether that would be possible, got a great response, and forged ahead. The filling came together quickly, the dough came together quickly, and overall the whole process, while tedious, went fairly quickly. By biggest concern came when I tasted the filling. It was much too salty, so I added some leftover brown rice that was in the fridge to try and cut the salt a bit. It worked a little, but it was still a little salty for my taste.

After the empanadas were all assembled, I gave them a brush with egg wash and tossed them in the oven- my perfect little golden orbs of goodness. 20 minutes later, the house smelled great, I opened the oven to find that just about every single empanada had its filling oozing out from somewhere. Some where oozing at the seams (which I can understand) but most of them had burst out the back of the empanada. There was very little filling left in the empanadas, and I guess I'm at a loss as to why that happened. The flavor was there, and dunked into some salsa and sour cream these would have been great had they kept their filling. Are there any experienced empanada makers around? I'm wondering if I should have pricked the tops with a fork a few times to let out steam. While they came together easily, they were a bit tedious for a weeknight, and I feel like a lot of work went for nothing, because while we ate a few, most of the empanadas went in the garbage. That's just sad. Here's the recipe I used for Black Bean Empanadas, maybe someone out there can shed some light for me. Oh, and next time I'd add a handful of chopped cilantro to the filling as well.

Black Bean Empanadas
from the CIA's Breakfast and Brunches

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onions
3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup crumbled queso blanco or cheddar cheese
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup masa harina
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons water
egg wash
3 cups oil (for frying)
kosher salt, as needed for garnish

1. To make filling:.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over med-hi heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, stirring frequently to prevent garlic from burning.
3. Stir in the cumin and oregano and cook for 30 more seconds. Add the beans and salt and pepper.
4. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Place beans in a blender and puree. If they are too stiff, add the water as needed to make a smooth puree.
5. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese.
6. The filling can be prepared ahead and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
7. To make dough:.
8. Combine the flour, masa harina, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to mix. Add oil and stir with a wooden spoon.
9. In a liquid measuring cup, mix together the eggs and water. Add gradually to the flour mixture until it is all incorporated.
10. Turn dough out onto a board and knead until it is very pliable - about 3 minutes. Add more flour or water if needed.
11. To assemble:.
12. Roll the dough out very thinly, about 1/16 inch thickness. Cut using a 3 inch round cutter. You should have 24 circles.
13. In a small bowl beat together 1 egg and 1 T. water to make an egg wash.
14. Place 2-1/2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each circle. Brush edges with egg wash and fold in half. Seal by pressing together with a fork. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
15. You may make these ahead and chill, covered, for up to 24 hours or freeze for up to 3 weeks.
16.** Heat oil in a deep fryer or skillet to 350 degrees. Fry until golden brown and crisp about 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt before serving.
17. Serve with sour cream, salsa or guacamole.

** I baked in a 425ºF oven for about 20 minutes after brushing the tops with an eggwash.


Andy said...

I haven't made empanadaas yet, but what I've read in most recipes is that they prick the top of the dough to let steam escape.

maybe that would help?

Erika W. said...

Yeah...I'm thinking that was my error.

Deborah said...

I think pricking them would help...but I've never made them, so don't trust me. :)

How well do you think these would freeze? If they're yummy but labor intensive, it's something I'd probably make a big batch of, and then freeze part of it.

sullicom said...

Try duct tape.

Erika W. said...

Deborah, I think they would likely freeze very well. I would freeze them uncooked and then pop them into the freezer frozen and add a few minutes to the cooking time.

Steve! My hubby just about spewed coffee all over his computer screen. :-D