As promised, I am bringing more South American cuisine to your repertoire. While traveling through Chile, I obviously fell in love with the lush terrain and golden slopes; however, I was much more fascinated by the culture of this society than anything else. For me the discernible characteristics were found in two specific areas… the prevalence of dogs and the Italian/Spanish influence. Folks greeted each other with a welcoming “Ciao” in piazza-ish town squares, empanadas were consumed by the dozen, and tamed stray dogs lay over park benches beside strangers willing to give them attention. I loved it all. For years, I have related more with dogs than any other animal but never have had the guts to take on the responsibility of owning one. Witnessing the simplicity of the creature and companion-like qualities offered, I came home feeling touched by the “Marley & Me” story more than ever. This past week I officially became a dog owner. In celebration for my new friend Falkor, we made empanadas Chilean style tonight. Enriched with ground beef and marinated black olives, we stayed true to this South American favorite. If you are feeling adventurous, add a hard-boiled egg to eat like a true local. I served with this citrus avocado salad because the flavors keep in tune with latin flavors perfectly.
Chilean Empanadas – Serves 4, makes 10
- empanada shells (Goya discos para empanadas can be found at most specialty grocery stores)
- 8 oz queso blanco or jack cheese
- olive oil
- 3/4 lb ground beef
- 1 small white one diced finely
- 1 bell pepper or hot pepper diced finely
- 1 clove garlic minced
- salt, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin
- 2 tbsp fresh herbs- green onion, basil or parsley
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup pitted mediterranean black olives
In a saute pan, coat with 2 tbsp olive oil and heat to medium. Saute onion, garlic, and pepper. Add beef after vegetables have softened. Add dry spices and cook until meat has turned from red to brown. Add tomato paste and mix in. Pour in red wine and simmer until most of liquid is gone. Add in black olives and fresh herbs.
Meanwhile, heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat baking sheet with olive oil. Slice cheese thin. Take empanada sheets and stuff with heaping tablespoon or two of meat mixture and slice of cheese. Press together edges and lay on baking pan. Should make about 10 empanadas. Brush tops with olive oil and then bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top.
Wine pairing: Adelaida Grenache. Notes of black cherry and spice complementing the acidity in the tomato paste and olives. Medium bodied.