The Whole Empanada
Ya gotta love a product that takes all the work and worry out of trying new dishes. Star Dough has been like that for me, a godsend. The buttery, flaky ease of the pie dough makes trying new dishes a pleasure. Get some: I have spoken.
My latest attempt was an empanada. Now, keep in mind that I have never actually eaten an empanada before in my life. I have heard that they are rather like a Cornish pasty, only not really, and Mexican. So, I invented this out of the wild scramble that is my brain and the contents of my fridge - it may not resemble in the slightest what you think of as an authentic empanada.
I used mostly veggies, plus some shredded pork and pork stock left over from a couple of spareribs that I grilled on the barbecue back when we could remember what sunshine looked like. They were not a huge success - just not something very grillable unless you have cooked them thoroughly before grilling, which I had not done. So, we nibbled at them but quickly decided that they'd make better stock than dinner. They were a huge success, however, at making smoky, porkylicious broth and I shredded the meat into the stock before freezing.
I started the empanada by chopping a whole bunch of veggies into small cubes - onion, garlic, carrot, two small Yukon gold potatoes, some mushrooms (sliced), a handful of green beans and a couple of leaves of a Napa cabbage. The frozen corn kernels didn't need chopping.
I fished out the pork (about half a cup) from the stock and browned it and the mushrooms in a wide skillet in a little oil/butter combo, then began sautéing the veggies, starting with the densest ones and going to the quickest-cooking ones, until all were colorful and still had some structural integrity. As the mixture dried out, I'd splash in a little of that pork stock for flavor and moisture. At the end, I sprinkled on a generous dash of Hop'n Jalapeño sauce and mixed it in.
When all the veggies were perfect, I took the pan off the heat and set it aside to cool slightly. While it was cooling, I unrolled a round of the wonderful Star Dough and set it on a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan, then stuck it back in the fridge to stay cold until baking.
When My Beloved got home from a successful sales trip to exotic Modesto, I turned on the oven to 475 degrees, piled the contents of the skillet onto half of the pastry, folded over the other half to make a half-circle and crimped the edges with a fork. Into that hot oven it went for 15 minutes and out it came, steaming and crisp and golden brown. Because I may have overdone the Hop'n Jalapeño just a tad, I served it with a little crême fraîche on the side to cut the heat.
My Beloved was in the middle of a story about his day when he took the first bite - it stopped him in mid-sentence to compliment the dish. Nothing pleases me more than that look of surprised pleasure on his face. It was spicy, no doubt about that, but also really tasty with that porky, smoky goodness wound in and amongst all the ingredients.
We ate the whole empanada.