Cookin' up a storm at Cook-A-Rama

Empanadas Arabes (Arab Empanadas)

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Each country in Latin America has its own version of empanadas, and within each country there are usually different versions from province to province.  In my humble opinion, traditional Argentine empanadas are the best out there (I’ll put that recipe up one of these days).  Empanadas Arabes are completely different from traditional Argentine empanadas, but they are also very delicious, and they are easier/faster to prepare.  The recipe originates in the Middle East and I imagine has been “Argentinized” a bit over time.  Give them a try for something different and yummy!  Together with a salad they can make up a complete meal.  

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds of lean ground beef
  • Juice from 1 1/2 lemons
  • 1 green pepper and 1/2 red pepper finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups of finely chopped green onion
  • 3 large roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 small handful of salt (coarsely ground is better, but not necessary)
  • 1 1/2 tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp of chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp of paprika
  • About 45 empanada discs (can get in any latino store- make sure to get the ones made for baking, “para hornear” or “hojaldre.”)

Instructions 

  1. Pour the juice from 1 1/2 lemons on the ground beef and mix it in thoroughly so that all of the meat has lemon juice on it.  The filling for these empanadas only cooks in the oven while the dough cooks (unlike traditional empanadas in which you cook the filling on the stove top before filling the dough), so the lemon juice is essential to help “cook” the meat.  It is also important to mix up the meat several times while you are chopping the vegetables: this is part of the “cooking” process.
  2. Dice the peppers, green onions, and tomatoes very finely.  Since the vegetables won’t be sautéed, it is important to dice them in to very small pieces.
  3. Mix all of the vegetables into the ground beef.  Add the salt and mix the mixture up well.  Mix in the seasonings: oregano, black pepper, chili powder, and paprika.  Ensure that the mixture is well mixed with all of the ingredients evenly distributed (the traditional way is to “knead” it for a few minutes with your hands).
  4. Leave the mixture to rest for at least 30 minutes.  This time allows the lemon juice to cure the meat and for the juices and flavors to come out.  The longer you can let the filling rest, the better (you can make the filling in advance to leave it in the fridge for a few hours).
  5. Fill the empanada discs: put about 2 Tablespoons of filling in the middle of the disc and shape it into a triangle (more or less).  Don’t fill the empanada too full, or else it won’t cook through.  With your finger, slightly wet the edges of the dough.  Fold one side of the dough over towards the center, then the other, and then the other.  The empanada will be in the shape of a triangle with a triangle-shaped hole in the center.  Make sure you leave a hole in the center as this allows the heat to flow through the empanada and cook the filling.  You can’t do these in the shape of traditional empanadas.  Put the empanadas on a greased cookie sheet or on a pizza stone.
  6. Cook on 400℉ for about 15 – 20 minutes until the dough is golden brown.
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