Last Night for Dinner…Empanadas!

These were not mere empanadas. They were Lamb Empanadas with Chimmichurri Sauce. I needed to distract my brain again the other night and thought ‘hey, why don’t I Make Lamb Empanadas with Chimmichurri Sauce?’ Who doesn’t think that when they’re not trying to think about all the other shit whirling around in their lives? I imagine that would be most people.

This dish is quite simply crazy good. It’s sweet. It’s savory. This is something you want to find at a Portland food cart.

Now I know some people have issues with lamb. They don’t like the taste. They don’t like eating cute meat. I wish I could understand. But I can’t. Lamb in all its many forms is simply delicious.

So if lamb is not your thing I could suggest you substitute  beef for the lamb (and I don’t mean lean beef. that’s just wrong). But I struggle, because the recipe just wouldn’t be the same. It screams for lamb and all it’s lamby goodness. The lamb gives this dish a depth and richness that you couldn’t get with ground beef. But if you insist. Go ahead. Just don’t tell me that you used ground beef instead.

Included today is the recipe for the empanada dough which I chose not to make because I’m so darned lazy and just wasn’t feeling it. Instead I bought a tube of Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuits. I know. Horrors! Don’t judge.

Lamb Prep

Empanada Filling

I know this is a long list of ingredients. Trust me when I tell you all these ingredients make this dish brilliant. You probably have all the spices in your pantry right now. Along with the Sriracha you bought to make the Roasted Chicken. Right? My kitchen smelled amazing! 

  • 1tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1pound ground lamb (try it. you’ll like it.)
  • 3cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1/3cup green olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/4cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2teaspoon cumin
  • 1teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2large beefsteak tomatoes, chopped, seeds and juice retained
  • 2tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent – 8 minutes.
  2. Add lamb and cook through, breaking up with the back of a fork – 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. saute 1 minute.
  4. Add raisins, olives, cumin, cinnamon, and oregano. Saute 1 minute.
  5. Add tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Lower to medium low and cook for 15 – 20 minutes until the tomatoes are cooked down but there is still plenty of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Set the filling aside to cool.

Empanada Dough

I bow before those who undertake the ‘dough endeavor.’ Let me know how it goes.

  • 2hard boiled eggs – thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2teaspoon salt
  • 3cups all purpose flour
  • 1teaspoon salt
  • 1tablespoon sugar
  • 1teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 1/2sticks unsalted butter, cut into cubes, chilled
  • 1egg (beaten)
  • 1/3cup ice water
  1. For the dough – mix together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar). In a separate bowl, mix together egg, vinegar, and water.
  2. Place the butter cubes into the dry ingredients, blending in the butter with your fingers until it forms a coarse meal. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix together and add the final 2 tablespoons if the dough is still dry.
  3. On a floured surface, lightly knead the dough for 1 minute to incorporate all the ingredients. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour at least.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll the pieces out into a circle 4-5 inches wide.

The Big Finish

If you’re taking the lazy way out and chose not to make the dough (I won’t tell a soul)…take the individual biscuit, roll it out into a circle 4-5 inches wide and follow the directions below.

  1. Place one circle of dough on a floured surface, fill with approximately 1/4 cup filling on one half of the circle, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Fold over the other half of the circle and tightly crimp the edges. Repeat with the remaining circles of dough.
  2. In a skillet, heat 1/2 inch of peanut oil. Lightly fry each formed empanada – about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve with chimichurri sauce.

I struggled just a bit with the whole ‘lightly frying process’ and had to experiment with three empanadas before I got it right.

You do not want your empanada to look like this…

Burnt Empanada

Chimichurri Sauce

  • 1/2cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4cup parsley
  • 3/4teaspoons salt
  • 1/3cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/3teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1clove garlic, minced
  • 1bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1/2teaspoon mexican oregano
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, serve. Enjoy!!

Keep a bowl of this sauce in your fridge at all times. It’s amazing over every single food thing I can think of with perhaps the exception of something like a doughnut.

Recipe Courtesy of the ridiculously talented people at Food52.

Pics courtesy of me.

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