Ladies and gentlemen, after a long journey, I have found the perfect dough recipe.
And when I found it, it was filled with meat.
That’s a combo straight from the heavens, isn’t it? Meat + carbs = win-win, baby. Every time.
I have never had the ability to perfect this combination before. The crust always came out as a soggy mess and the meat would be completely overcooked. However I attribute these previous disasters to a tragically flawed dough recipe. How else can I explain that this empanada bake came out with a perfectly cooked center of meat, onions, and tomatoes, surrounded by a delightfully warm crunchy and soft dough exterior on my first try?
Somehow I was destined to make this exact dish on the exact same weekend I celebrated a very special someone’s birthday.
Fate? I think so.
I only made a couple minor seasoning changes to this month’s Daring Baker’s challenge (I didn’t mess with the dough, in case you were wondering. You don’t mess with that kind of perfection.) and I was very impressed with the outcome. Plus I had lunches for a week even after we devoured half of it over the weekend. Anything I can do to eliminate my lunch choices benefits both my wallet and my scale, which I am pretty sure I almost broke the other day so I now refuse to step on any scale for fear of crushing it with the extra pounds I have gained after eating all weekend long.
Oh, did I happen to mention that I mention I have another cooking, and therefore eating, extravaganza planned for this coming weekend?
I have an addiction, people.
Empanada Gallega (slightly adapted from Patri of Asi Son Las Cosas)
5 1/3 cups bread flour
2 cups of lukewarm water
1 satchel dry yeast or fresh yeast
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons oil
1 large egg, for egg wash
1 big onion (or 2 medium-sized ones) chopped
7 oz tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 small green pepper
2 garlic cloves
3/4 olive oil
2/3 pound ground beef
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro leaves, chopped
To make the dough:
Add flour to a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Rub the yeast in with your fingers.
In a small bowl, mix the water and the salt.
Now, using your fingers or a wooden spoon, starting adding the water and mixing it with the flour-yeast mixture. Keep on working with your fingers or spoon until you have added enough water and all the flour has been incorporated and you have a messy ball of dough.
On a clean counter top, knead the dough for approximately 10 minutes.
Clean and oil the big bowl you used for mixing and place the kneaded dough in it. Cover it with a napkin or piece of linen and keep it in a warm, draught-free place for approximately 40 to 50 minutes.
Once risen, turn the dough back onto a floured counter and cut in half. Cover one half with the napkin to prevent drying. Spread the other half of the dough using a rolling-pin to about 3mm thin (about 1/10th of an inch).
To make meat filling:
Heat the oil in a skillet. Fry the chopped onion, pepper, and garlic until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes, chopped small, and cook until done.
Add meat and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, and stir into the frittata. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly flour a flat baking pan with raised sides. Cover the base and sides with the dough. Using the rolling-pin or a knife, cut the extra dough.
Place the filling, making sure it is cold and that all the base is covered. Be careful to avoid adding too much oil from the filling, try to make it as dry as possible.
Take the other half of the dough and spread it out to the same or less thinness of the base. Top you empanada and using your fingers, join bottom and top dough when you have gone all the way around, start pinching top and bottom together with you thumb and index finger and turning them half way in to end up with a rope-like border.
When you are finished, make a 1 inch hole in the middle of the top layer. In a small bowl, beat an egg and add a tbsp of cold water. With a pastry brush, paint the top of the empanada with the egg wash.
Bake for about 45 minutes.