Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Okeechobee, Fla
This recipe is adapted from one by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. I had their version of these empanadas at their Las Vegas restaurant, The Border Grill, a few weeks ago. They were good but I thought the dough too soft and the filling a little bland. I researched their original recipe and made several changes that I thought would improve the finish. The filling is one of many possibilities, changes in seasoning and/or the inclusion or substitution of other ingredients could be easily done.
Empanadas, savory or sweet fried or baked pastries popular in many South American countries (particularly Chile and Argentina), are usually made with a flour-based dough. Fillings might include seasoned meat, cheeses, dried fruit, and all manner of spices and aromatics. These empanadas are made with oven-roasted plantains as the base for the dough and thus are quite different.
A tortilla press is very helpful. If unavailable, a heavy flat-bottomed pan or a rolling pin would work. It would be still necessary to use parchment or plastic to underline and cover the dough before pressing or rolling.
For the filling:
3/4 c minced fried bacon*
1/2 t ground white pepper
1/4 t ground cumin
1 c cold refried black beans, or use best-quality canned
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, minced
1/4 c feta, crumbled
1/4 c queso blanco, crumbled
For the dough:
3 ripe plantains**
1 ripe banana
1/2 c finely ground cornmeal
1/4 c a.p. flour
1 t salt
Oil for frying
Crema or sour cream for serving
pineapple salsa (optional) for serving
Preheat the oven to 350. Cut a slit lengthwise in each plantain and set them on a sheet pan. Bake until the flesh is soft and just oozing through the slit, about 45-55 min. Remove from the oven; cool.
Meanwhile, mix all the stuffing ingredients in a large bowl. Add salt to taste, if needed. Cover and reserve in the fridge.
Peel the plantains and discard any tough ends; peel the banana. In a food processor, combine the plantains with the banana and salt and pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl and pulse till a smooth puree is just formed. (Do not overprocess or the dough will become too starchy.) Scrape the dough into a bowl, cover, and chill at least 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the fridge and add half the flour and half the ground cornmeal. Mix in well with a wooded spoon. The dough should be a bit moist but not wet and be able to be pressed or rolled and keep together fairly well. (To test, break off a 2-tablespoon-size piece and test it using the step below.) If too soft or wet, add some, most or all of the remaining flour and cornmeal (I used the amounts noted above).
Cut the parchment into several 6x6 (or so) squares. Roll a 2-tablespoon-size piece of the dough between your palms to form a ball. Place a piece of parchment on the tortilla press and the dough ball on the parchment. Place another piece of parchment atop the ball and press to form a 3-4-inch circle. (Alternatively, do this with a flat-bottomed pan or rolling pin.)
Remove the top sheet of parchment (save it for re-use), patch any small holes by pressing with your finger, and place a heaping t of filling off-center on the dough. Using the parchment under the dough to assist you, fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges with the fingers of your other hand to seal. Carefully remove the empanada from the parchment (save for re-use) and place on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Repeat, re-using the parchment squares if possible, using new if not. Chill the empanadas at least 30 min in the fridge, uncovered, or place the sheet pan in the freezer, uncovered, and freeze. (After freezing, remove the empanadas to a Ziploc and return to the freezer. Do not thaw before frying.)
To cook, heat some oil in a large saute pan till hot but not smoking, over med-high heat. Fry the empanadas a few at a time, till browned all over, about 2 min per side (because of the nature of this dough it will cook and finish with a bit of crispness where browned but will not be crispy throughout).
Drain on paper towels. Serve with crema or sour cream and pineapple salsa, if desired. Makes about 18.
* I used Buckboard bacon which I'd recently made but 'regular' bacon, or minced leftover smoked pork butt would work well too. Fry first till crispy, mince, then measure. A bit more of less than 3/4 c is perfectly okay.
** unlike bananas, plantains are ripe when the skin is yellow with much black streaking or black spots. All-yellow plantains are considered half-ripe. Plantains will continue to ripen after purchase.