September 14th, 2013 Beef Empanadas First off I want to start off by giving credit where credit is due. A fellow food enthusiast at Smoked Meat.com, posted this recipe and after reading his post and viewing the incredible photos I was hooked. It reminded me of one of my favorite dinners at Chi Chi's, beef tacos, they bring out a piping hot Cast Iron Skillet with the peppers, onions and beef sizzling away on the skillet, with that you got 5 soft wraps, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and sour cream, I'm not 100 percent sure it has been a while. Saturday afternoon I showed the post to my lovely wife Laura and said, "what do you think about these for dinner", well it only took a quick glance at the pictures and she said, "ABSOLUTELY"! This was posted by Vermin 99 on another forum titled Empanadas, Philly Cheeseteak Style. I pretty much followed his recipe with only a few slight variations. Although the meat was grilled on a sear station I posted this under Cooking With Cast Iron, because the beef can be CI cooked at high heat. So what is an Empanada? Well this is the short version of what an Empanada is, a Spanish or Latin American pastry turnover filled with a variety of savory ingredients and baked or fried. So lets get started, A lot of this was all going on the same time so I will try to sort the pics so they make sense as a recipe. We decide to use a Flank Steak, "London broil", YEAH! I know, "London broil" is a method of cooking not a type of meat, HEY don't blame me, blame the butchers. OK, where was I, Oh yeah, the Flank Steak is sliced about a quarter inch thick against the grain then marinated at room temperature for about an hour in Teriyaki sauce. As the "Flank Steak" was marinating, I prepped the veggies, Orange Peppers, Red Peppers, Beef, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Smoked Jalapeno's and Onion, then fried the peppers and onions in a extremely hot Cast Iron Skillet with some Crisco until the veggies would burn slightly. Oh forgot the mushrooms. A few minutes before the meat was tossed on the grill I added a modest teaspoon of Montreal Steak Seasoning (I don't know why this spice gets such a bum rap, because I love it). The meat was placed on the grill directly over the sear station, I wanted a char on the meat, this could have been done in the skillet. You can see by the photo below, exactly where the sear station is located. I really should have done this in two batches as you can see the outer pieces did not char like the center pieces. I wanted the heat really, really hot so I could get the char without drying out the meat. We had picked up some Pillsbury refrigerated dough and frozen pizza dough because Laura thought that the bread would not thaw quick enough. I really wanted to use the pizza dough, so I quick thawed it in warm water and rewarmed the water as it got cold. Done this for about an hour then coated a bowl with olive oil and tossed the dough in and coated the top with olive oil. Worked great! Laura working on the pizza dough. Then the Pillsbury refrigerated dough. Onions are done Peppers are done Mushrooms are done, added a little bit of soy to the mushrooms, would have like to of added a little bit of vermouth, but did not think of it until later. Beef is removed from the grill and will rest a few minutes, then the beef is sliced. You can see that the beef is still moist. SQWIBS Empanada had the following, Orange Peppers, Red Peppers, Onions, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Smoked Jalapenos, Beef, Mushrooms, American cheese, and Provolone cheese. Smoked Jalapenos and sun dried tomatoes. Both from the garden. Beef is added. Peppers are added. Onions. The assembly line. Mushrooms. Provolone and American cheese. I find that using American cheese in a recipe like this really gives some flavor to the bread, we always have the American cheese up against the bread. Then everything is wrapped and sealed. Sprayed the top with cooking spray. I suggested egg whites or butter but the wife unit said, I'll just spray them". Into the oven at 400°F. Since everything was cooked already, we pulled these from the oven when the crust was just golden brownt, just let them rest ten minutes or so before slicing or biting into one. Whoa! That's HOT, lets try some sour cream! OK, it's time to critique. I just had another Empanada for lunch while I was writing this article, so I'm gonna get some thoughts down while the taste is still on my mind. Dough: We rolled out the dough fairly thin as seen in the last few pictures, you can make the dough thicker for a more roll like bite. The pizza dough was slightly better, flavor wise, than the Pillsbury refrigerated dough, as far as the texture goes they were surprisingly fairly similar, with the Pillsbury refrigerated dough being a bit more tender, but I prefer the flavor of the pizza dough over the Pillsbury refrigerated dough which is a bit sweeter than the pizza dough. However it's nice to know that you can use these Pillsbury refrigerated doughs in a pinch... quick and easy! Cheese: The American cheese added a good bit of flavor to the bread and blended well with the other ingredients. The provolone added some texture to the ingredients and sort of held everything together. Veggies: Slicing the veggies fairly thick really make a difference because you don't get a bunch of flavors mixed up, you actually get to taste the individual ingredients, which I think is pretty awesome. Charring the veggies a bit, is the way to go, the veggies are very sweet and tender but not over the top. Mushrooms: Adding a bit of soy to the mushrooms during the last few minutes in the skillet adds a nice flavor, I would have like to added a bit of vermouth as well. Beef: Marinating the beef in Teriyaki is a must it helps with achieving that slight char on the beef as it adds a great flavor. Montreal Steak seasoning: As i said before, I'm not sure why this spice gets such a bum rap on some of my frequented forums but it definitely gives the beef a bit of a boost and really makes the beef pop. Overall: WOW! Talk about a party in your mouth! The flavors were incredible, what was nice was the clean bite, everything was so tender that you did not pull all the stuffing out when taking a bite. OK now onto the Empanada with the jalapeno's and sun-dried tomatoes. How was it? It was extremely spicy, I think 6 jalapenos is a bit much, WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING! Anyhow, I really enjoyed the hint of sun-dried tomatoes, but think I will tone the jalapeno peppers down to maybe one or two! It was hot but very good, I cooled it down a bit with some sour cream. I was a bit surprised that everyone liked them, especially my son. This is definitely a keeper and there's no need for improvement with this recipe. My only suggestion would be to, double up on what you think you will need, one of these is filling but they are so good, you will be tearing apart the refrigerator later on looking for leftovers!