Empanadas, Not Enchiladas!

This post is brought to you by lard, which was purchased for me by Tina, a woman that I work with. Thank you Tina for introducing me to lard. We’ll see how my thighs and gut thank you later. (ha, j/k. sort of.)

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I confess, this lard sat in my house for a WHILE. I was unusually tired, so I did very little that involved standing after work, unless it involved getting a shower. Admittedly, I was reluctant to do even that. Needless to say, there was no cooking done by me at the house.

One day, however, I decided to get myself together and make these empanadas. It seemed that whenever I told people I was making these, they would say “Oh! Enchiladas!” “Um, no…” I would reply. Enchiladas are more like a Mexican manicotti. It’s not that enchiladas involve pasta, but they’re constructed like the Italian counterpart. Empanadas are more like a miniature turnover. Before baking, they resemble pierogies. We’ll get to that later, though.

The beauty of empanadas is that you can stuff them with whatever you wish! I used a basic recipe from Food Network, but I stuffed only 1/2 of the empanadas with beef, like the recipe suggests. I stuffed the latter half with mushrooms, though. I rarely eat mushrooms simply because I’m the only one at home that likes them; however, I made an exception since this was my experiment.

Editor’s Note: The recipe suggests using a 3″ round cutter to make your empanadas. If you’re like me and don’t have one, or couldn’t find one at the store, use a cup as your cutter. I used a small tea cup that measure 3″ across.

When I’m making something, I will oftentimes “start” it so that I commit myself to finishing. Late one night, I made the dough, which was easy to do. The recipe calls for lard and butter in the dough, so do not consume if you’re dieting. You could use all lard if desired, but I used both lard and butter. Just a note: I could see the fat streaked in the dough. It was my first time using lard for something other than frying. Needless to say, I was shocked!

About 3 days hence, I now had all my ingredients, and was ready to throw down!

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Rolling out my dough was easy enough, but putting in the right amount of filling was a little tricky. I was using a spoon, but I wanted to be greedy generous as possible with the amount that I put in the little round shells. I ended up with extra filling towards the end for both the beef and the mushrooms! I may make them into a savory tart or a larger turnover. Hey, it was delicious!

My final verdict on this recipe? There were some ingredients–mainly the almonds, cinnamon and raisins–that I thought were a little strange to put in. I thought it may turn out sweeter than I wanted. However, with the savory flavors added by the cumin, beef and mushrooms, and the heat from the serrano chiles, it wasn’t at all sweet. It lent more complexity to the filling. I was also a fan of the almonds in this; they gave this something rough and crunchy in the midst of the soft filling.

Although I did follow a recipe, I’m glad I chose that one out of all of the recipes I looked at. I’ll definitely use this again and play around with my fillings and spices. I’m also going to note that I didn’t measure out the few spices that were in this dish. I felt no need to do so. There are measurements, but I did it to taste. The amounts I used were mostly likely equivalent to the amounts in the recipe.

If you desire something substantial, these won’t stick unless you eat quite a few! If you want something that will fill you up, I have 2 suggestions:

1. Make them bigger than the recipe.

2. Eat them alongside rice or a salad. They would compliment a salad well.

Have fun with your empanadas! If you have leftovers, don’t despair; they can easily be frozen until you’re ready to enjoy more (and I know you will be!)

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By the way… if you’re thinking of taking lard out of the recipe, I’m here to be your voice of reason: DON’T DO IT! If you’ve never used lard to make a dough, here’s some info on that:

1. I don’t know what I was thinking, but lard doesn’t smell pork-y at all. In fact, it doesn’t smell like much of anything.

2. It makes a crust so flaky that you can visibly see the layers, even if you have 4 eyes, like me.

3. Said crust dissolves in your mouth when you eat it. It’s also crisp.

My final word on the subject? Add butter if you so wish, but do not take away the lard!

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