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Colombian Empanadas

Servings: 12 empanadas

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2 1/2 cup 290 g corn flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup warm water plus a splash or two of water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Simple Tomato Aji:

  • 3 ripe-vine tomatoes de-seeded and diced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1 serrano pepper de-seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro loosely chopped
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Pinch of salt

Empanadas:

  • 1 medium russett potato peeled and diced
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • Salt

Instructions

Dough:

  • In a medium bowl, mix together the corn flour and salt. Create a well in the center and pour in the water and olive oil. Mix until dough forms a ball. If the dough is on the drier side, add a splash or two of water until the dough feels moist and pliable. Wrap the ball of dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the kitchen counter for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the aji and filling.

Aji:

  • Mix together all of the ingredients until combined. Set aside.

Filling:

  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the diced potato and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. When done, transfer to a colander to drain. Mash the potato lightly with a fork and set aside.
  • In a medium skillet, set over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil. Add shallot and cook until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add red bell pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Place minced garlic atop vegetable mixture and cook for an additional minute. Mix in the tomato paste, cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper and a few pinches of salt.
  • To the skillet, add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until the meat is in small crumbles. Cook until the meat browns, mixing it regularly, about 7 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl and add the mashed potato. Mix until combined and salt to taste.

Empanada Assembly:

  • Scoop a few tablespoons of dough (about 2 ounces) onto your palm and roll into a smooth ball. Place the ball in between two pieces of plastic wrap and using a rolling pin, gently press the dough into a circle. (It's ok if the dough cracks a bit around the edges, but if it cracks completely that means it's not moist enough. You can fix it by adding a splash of water to the balls of dough, kneading it in and then re-rolling it. Not a fun solution but I've done this and it works great.)
  • Place a teaspoon or two on one half of the dough circle. Using the bottom plastic wrap, lift and fold the dough over, creating a half moon shape. Using the tines of a fork, crimp the edges tightly and if you're really fancy, you can trim off any scraggly edges with a knife. Gently move the finished empanada to a cutting board and repeat this process until you've gone through all of the dough.
  • In a cast iron skillet (or medium pot), add enough vegetable oil until it reaches about 3 inches, and heat until a thermometer reaches 350F. If you don't have a thermometer, not that big of a deal--add a tiny bit of scraped dough and if it sizzles, it's ready for the empanadas. Carefully add three empanadas at a time, being sure to not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the empanadas are golden brown and crispy. Drain on a bed of paper towels and repeat until all of the empanadas are fried. Serve immediately with the aji.