Category Archives: Poultry

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/

Beer-basted Chicken + Chicken Stock

My sister and I ate General Tso last week, and he was delicious, though the cooking part didn’t exactly go as planned.

The original plan was to do an Asian-style tea smoked chicken, which is delicious but hasn’t graced my kitchen in a few years (I have a feeling it will soon, though.) But that plan shifted when we made a shocking discovery:

The General only had one testicle. And it was enormous.

To give you some perspective, a chicken’s brain is about the size of my thumbnail. The General’s lone gonad was nearly the size of my fist. Suddenly, his aggressive behavior made a lot more sense.

So back to the recipe. We’d talked before about making Beercan Chicken, mostly in jest, because we used to have a Speckled Sussex hen named Beercan. But now we had to, because of a favorite local beer: One Nut Brown Ale.

Unfortunately, Oskar Blues had One Nut on tap but not in cans or growlers. I briefly considered ordering a pint at their restaurant and smuggling it out, but instead I settled on the next best thing:

old_speckled_hen

Only, the Beercan Chicken idea didn’t work out so well either. I decided to try doing it in the oven instead of the grill since it was getting dark outside, but the can slid around on the cookie sheet and collapsed. I tried for a few minutes to get the whole mess balanced, even using a different size can and spilling most of the beer in the process, but I soon gave up. It seemed disrespectful somehow, trying to balance a chicken impaled on a beer can. I can’t imagine why.

So instead, I laid the whole chicken down in the spilled beer (about half a can’s worth) and rubbed it all over with olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped fresh thyme. Then I added a few pats of butter and some chicken stock to the pan and put it in a 325 degree oven until the thigh meat reached 165F (this took about an hour and a half for a nearly 4 pound bird.) I turned it over halfway through the cooking process, and basted every 15 minutes or so.

general_with_herbs_and_butter

The meat was tasty, and not at all tough (partly because we let it rest in the fridge for a couple days, partly because Speckled Sussex roosters are slow to mature.) The recipe I based mine on used a lot of pepper, and that plus the beer flavor was a bit overwhelming — I wouldn’t necessarily do it the same way next time, but it was still the best chicken I’d ever eaten because I grew it myself.

The leftovers were made into frozen burritos, assembly line style. And everything else went into the stockpot, soon to become several pints of rich, velvety chicken stock.

chicken_stock

To make stock, I cover the carcass with filtered water (add in any unused giblets, too) and throw in a bunch of carrots and onions. We have a huge lovage plant that comes back every year, so I use that in place of celery (but you can use anything you like.) This time I also threw in a few handfuls of thyme, tarragon, and whatever else needed to be cut back in the herb garden.

I boil it for as long as I can (about 9 hours, this time) then strain it into glass jars. Once cool, I freeze it in plastic tubs and then vacuum seal the frozen stock so I can reclaim the containers. Then I have chicken stock whenever I need it — for soups, or as a vehicle for poached eggs.

Stock is infinitely better when made at home, and it’s a perfect way to make use of every last bit of the chicken (and fill your house with delicious smells in the process.) So please, never throw away a chicken or turkey carcass — why would you want to waste all that, especially when it’s so easy? If you don’t have time to make the stock right away (I usually don’t) just seal up the carcass and stick it in the freezer.

 

General Tso’s Bad Day Pâté

Early on the morning of Memorial Day, our brave rooster General Tso crowed his last.

the_general

The General was a Speckled Sussex rooster, and he was not altogether a bad guy. He always let the ladies eat first, and he was very protective of his flock — especially Kung Pao, who hatched and raised him from a chick. But as the General’s testosterone surged, things got to a point where we couldn’t take food out to the chicks or change their water without fending off an attack. Everything was a threat: The big plastic waterer, the bucket we carry feed in, the reflective stripes on my sister’s running pants.

general_tso_on_the_warpath

Clearly, we were headed for another Colonel Sanders. Though he hadn’t actually drawn blood from any visitors yet, the prospect of having friends bring their kids over to meet the chickens made me shudder. And the poor hens, much fewer than he should have had, lost most of their back feathers and ran from his advances. The flock dynamic was all wrong.

And so with heavy hearts, we decided it was time to butcher our rooster.

This was my first time killing a chicken, at least directly. Over my lifetime, without really acknowledging it, I’ve commanded the deaths of thousands of chickens. Ordering it in restaurants, buying pullets from a feed store; it’s not really any different when you slaughter your own bird. It just seems that way, because it’s right there in front of you.

We helped some good friends with a few of their chickens last year, so we knew what to do and how to process the General afterward. But I’ve never personally taken the life of a creature in its prime, looking it in the eye and breathing the same air. It was a heavy prospect for me, and I shed a few tears in the days leading up to it as we made preparations. As I’m sure I will this fall, when it’s time to process the roosters from the chicks we hatched last month. But I knew I could handle it, because I realized long ago that if I’m going to keep eating meat I should be okay with where it comes from.

In the end, it was not an easy morning but it went exactly as we hoped. The General went to sleep on his roost and woke up in a dog crate, with no stressful chase and capture. His last morning was a beautiful one, with birds singing and the scent of lilacs on the breeze. And then, in the space of a few seconds, it was over. A dignified end for a rooster who meant well, but whose time had come.

see_you_later

The General is relaxing in the fridge for a couple days, so that he’ll be nice and tender. Last night, I cooked his liver and made it into a little pâté, just enough for two. It was a perfect way to celebrate a fine rooster with a bit of a mean streak.

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