Category Archives: Beef

Empanadas de Pino (y Pollo)

empanadas_de_pino

Every culture has its own version of empanadas, and for good reason — what could be better than a portable, sturdy crust stuffed with any number of sweet and/or savory fillings?

Unfortunately, most of the empanadas I’ve had here in the US are deep-fried, oozing affairs that require the use of a knife and fork. My sister, on the other hand, spent a considerable amount of time bicycling in South America and as a result is something of an empanada connoisseur/fanatic. And so I was a little intimidated when she challenged me to make her favorite, “empanadas de pino.”

Empanadas are basically a sturdy pie crust made with plenty of lard*, and a savory filling. They can be baked or fried, but I see no need to involve a deep fryer in this recipe (or in most recipes, if I’m being honest). Empanadas de pino are the standard Chilean version, filled with a mixture of beef, olives, raisins, and hard-boiled egg — and they are more delicious than any description could possibly convey.

empanada_assembly

*I used lard that I rendered myself from a piece of whey-fed pork fat I got from Windsor Dairy; you can find sources for responsibly raised lard here

I also made a version with chicken, since we had leftovers from one of our boys that I roasted earlier in the week. I went all savory with the chicken-and-egg empanadas, leaving out the raisins and adding some chopped jalapeño-and-garlic stuffed green olives. These were also extremely tasty, and I can’t think of a better use for those last shreds of meat I pull off a chicken before it goes in the stock pot.

assembling_chicken_empanadas

Virtually every food is more delicious empanada, but anything saucy/cheesy/greasy tends to soak through the dough and make a mess. So it’s best to stick with fillings that are on the dry side.

crimp_the_edges

And the best thing about empanadas? Apparently, you can make a whole bunch of them, and then put some in the freezer instead of the oven. I had every intention of trying that with this batch, but they all disappeared. Maybe next time.

brush_with_egg_and_milk

Empanadas de Pino

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: About 8-10 large empanadas

Empanadas de Pino

This is the most traditional empanada filling used in Chile, and it is delicious. It's best when allowed to rest in the fridge overnight before being made into empanadas.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (grass-fed works best)
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup beef glace or good-quality stock
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives
  • 3 eggs, hard-boiled (if using fresh eggs, make sure they're at least a week old)
  • Empanada dough (recipe follows, this amount of filling uses roughly 1/2 batch.)

Instructions

    Hard-boil the eggs:
  1. Put eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with 2 inches cold water. Partially cover pot and set over moderate heat, occasionally rolling the eggs with a wooden spoon to keep the yolk centered. When the pot boils, cover and set a timer for 30 seconds. Then, remove the pot from heat and let stand covered for 15 minutes. Remove eggs and immediately put under cold running water for 5 minutes (this keeps the yolk from turning green). Dry and refrigerate for 30 minutes before peeling.
  2. Make the beef filling:
  3. Brown beef with onions in a large heavy skillet. Add flour and cook another 5-10 minutes longer.
  4. Let cool, and refrigerate overnight if possible (or up to 2 days).
  5. For each golf-ball-sized bit of dough, use about 3 tablespoons beef filling and top with a few raisins, sliced olives, and a slice of hard-boiled egg.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/empanadas-de-pino-y-pollo/

Empanada Dough

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Makes about 12 large empanadas

This all-purpose dough is perfect for wrapping around your favorite savory (and sweet) fillings.

Ingredients

    For dough
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 12 tablespoons good quality lard, chilled (I used whey-fed pork fat from a local dairy, which I rendered myself)
  • 3/4 - 1 cup cold water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • For egg wash:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Instructions

  1. Sift flour, salt, and sugar together into a bowl.
  2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, blend the butter and lard into the flour mixture until well-combined and the largest lumps are pea-sized.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cups water. Gradually stir in the water/egg mixture with a fork, adding a bit at a time, and add more water if necessary to make the dough come together. It should look a bit shaggy until it's thoroughly chilled. Wrap tightly and refrigerate at least an hour, or up to a couple days.
  4. Roll dough into balls about the size of golf balls, and roll out with a rolling pin into a 6-7" round. Place about 3 tablespoons of filling in the center and wet 1/2 of the edge with a finger dipped in water, then carefully fold the dry edge up and over the filling, pressing it against the other edge to seal the empanada. Use your fingers to roll and crimp any excess dough to reinforce the seam. Use a fork to gently poke a few holes across the top.
  5. The empanadas can be frozen at this point and baked later, if you wish.
  6. Beat egg yolk in 2 tablespoons milk, and lightly brush on finished empanadas before baking. Bake at 350F for about 35-45 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. NOTE: Lard is wonderful, in part, because your pastry will get nice and brown and crisp but will take forever to burn. However, the egg wash on these can make them appear browner than they actually are. Don't be too quick to pull your empanadas out of the oven, and be sure to take a peek at the underside when you check them.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/empanadas-de-pino-y-pollo/

Blackout fare: Herb salad with prosciutto and pine nuts, plus a perfect pan-seared steak.

feeder_frenzy

My sister and I moved into the old farmhouse during a particularly snowy March. With miles of huge old cottonwood trees shading the lines between our neighborhood and the rural electric company that serves us, we had a lot of power outages that spring.

But as soon as we bought a portable generator, Colorado experienced two of the driest years on record. We didn’t use the generator at all, other than starting it up periodically to keep it in working order.

But last spring, we got a few decent snowstorms and the generator started earning its prime spot in the shed. And then the flood happened, and our trusty generator kept us running for a full 3 days. Internet, sump pump, fridge, phones, and incubator — without backup power, it would have been so much worse.

And now, I can start the generator in my sleep. Gone are the days of nervously re-reading the instruction manual by the light of my headlamp before I pull the cord. We’re friends now, the generator and I.

Generator

Fortunately, I also have a gas stove and plenty of matches at my disposal. So once the the essentials are hooked up to power again, I always head for the comfort of my kitchen.

cooking_by_candlelight

I love cooking during a blackout, with only the glow of candlelight (ok, and my headlamp) to light my way. Somehow, the food always tastes better.

Last time, it was a couple of beautiful grass-fed steaks from Windsor Dairy. So in honor of the oncoming winter and the end of grilling season, today I bring you my tips for a perfectly pan-seared steak (and one of my favorite salads). It’s a meal best made by candlelight.

blackout_steaks

For a perfectly seared piece of meat, use a heavy pan (cast iron is best). Throw in some fat, like butter or bacon grease, and get it really hot but not smoking. Make sure you leave plenty of room around each piece of meat as you put it in the pan, so it can brown. Then, don’t touch it.

Seriously, just leave it alone. I know how tempting it can be to peek; I’ve ruined many nice cuts of meat this way. You have a mouthwatering steak sizzling in the pan, and even though the recipe says to cook on high heat for 5 minutes each side, it sounds like it’s burning. Sure enough, when you try to look it sticks to the pan, and then you panic and end up with a mangled piece of meat that’s barely even lost its pink. And it’s now it’s never going to brown.

If you think it’s time to flip whatever you’re browning, grab the sides with a pair of tongs and –very gently– try to jiggle it. If it doesn’t move easily, it’s not ready to be turned yet. Sticking to the pan is part of the process as the meat starts to cook. As long as you’ve greased your pan sufficiently, the meat will lift up as it browns and you’ll be able to turn it without leaving half of it on the pan.

Instead of trying to peek at that steak, pour yourself a glass of wine, be patient, and listen to the noises it makes as it cooks. Over time, you’ll learn to recognize the difference in sound (and smell) when it starts to brown.

Then, let it rest. When you cut into a juicy piece of meat as soon as you take it off the heat, the liquids bubble out onto the plate and you’re left with a dry, disappointing mess. But if you let it rest for 10-15 minutes (or 20-25, for larger cuts like roasts), the juices will settle back into the meat instead of running all over the plate.

steaks_resting_by_candlelight

While the steaks rested under a loose covering of tinfoil, I pulled out some leftover salad ingredients from the night before. Toasted pine nuts, fresh basil, chewy prosciutto, and nutty grated parmesan melting together under a warm balsamic dressing. Add some crusty bread, and the best steaks I’ve ever cooked, and it was almost a shame when the lights flickered back on.

prosciutto_salad

So bring on the snow and the wind (mostly snow, please). I’m ready.

snow_and_blue_skies

Fresh herb salad with prosciutto and toasted pine nuts

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Fresh herb salad with prosciutto and toasted pine nuts

adapted from Colorado Collage

Ingredients

  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh italian parsley leaves, pulled off the stem
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3 ounces of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 3 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto
  • For the dressing:
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

    Toast the pine nuts:
  1. Set oven to 325F and spread pine nuts in a glass baking dish. Place pine nuts in oven as it preheats and set a timer for 4 minutes.
  2. When your timer goes off, stir pine nuts and continue checking them for 1-minute increments until they begin to turn golden brown and fragrant, then set them aside to cool.
  3. Make the salad:
  4. Wash greens, basil, and parsley and place in a towel to dry.
  5. Rinse green onions, peeling off any wilted outer layers, and slice thinly (both green and white parts.)
  6. Cut prosciutto into bite size squares.
  7. Make the dressing:
  8. Peel garlic cloves and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.
  9. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over very low heat.
  10. Add garlic and cook until barely browned, about 8 minutes.
  11. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; discard.
  12. Add balsamic and red wine vinegar.
  13. Increase heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes.
  14. Add brown sugar -- careful, the dressing will splatter.
  15. Cook 1 minute and taste for sweet-tart balance -- stir in additional sugar or vinegar as desired. If it still tastes too sharp, simmer for a minute or two longer.
  16. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
  17. Put it together:
  18. Arrange greens and herbs in individual bowls and scatter pine nuts, prosciutto and parmesan on top.
  19. Drizzle a few teaspoons of dressing over each bowl.
  20. Serve immediately and pass additional dressing.
http://www.homegrowngourmet.org/blackout-fare/