beef

Argentinian Beef Hand Pies

Empanadas

As Valy Steverlynck, from Luján, Argentina, taught Lindsay Sterling in Freeport, Maine.

Serves: 12-24 depending on how big you make them
Active time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hr (if you use pre-made dough) to 2 days if you make your own dough and prep the filling the day before.

Note: For the dough, Valy used pre-made empanada discs or "discos" as they are named on the package. They're sold in the freezer of Latin markets and some supermarkets. These make this recipe really easy. I've provided a dough recipe for those who want to make dough from scratch.

For the dough:

  • 2-3 packages pre-made empanada dough discos OR:
     
  • 6 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 egg, mixed up
  • 1 egg for egg wash at the end
  • two dashes salt
  • 5-7 Tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, rough chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • dash cayenne or hot chili powder to taste

For the glaze:

  • 1 egg

Equipment

  • 2 half sheet pans or cookie sheets
  • rolling pin
  • 2 cereal bowls
  • 1 small bowl
  • spatula

If you are making your own dough:

  • large food processor or large bowl with fork/pastry cutter
  • wax paper 
  • plastic wrap 

Instructions

1. If you are using the pre-made empanada dough, skip ahead to item number two. If you are not using the pre-made dough discs, make the dough a day ahead of time if you can. Put flour, salt, the mixed egg, and butter in a food processor or use a fork or your fingers to cut the butter into the flour until you have what looks like course coarse corn meal. Add 5 Tbsp ice cold water and blend briefly until the dry flour-y look is gone, but what you see is still loose and crumbly, not dough-y. Try squeezing the loose pieces together. Do they stick together? If not, then continue mixing in water teaspoon by teaspoon until they do. When the crumbles do stick together when pressed, then dump half the contents onto a sheet of wax paper, and the other half on another sheet. Press the contents on the wax paper into a long rectangular pile perpendicular to you and roll the wax paper over tightly so you make the dough into a cylinder, about 2 inches in diameter, contained in wax paper. Do this with the other pile and wax paper. Refrigerate the cylinders wrapped in plastic wrap for thirty minutes or better, over night.

2. You can make the filling the day before, too, if you like. Hard boil 2 eggs. Saute onions in oil. When soft, add ground beef, spices, tomatoes and salt. When beef is all the way cooked, mix in parsley, hard boiled eggs (cut into 1/4 inch pieces), green olives and raisins. Refrigerate until you want to assemble and cook the empanadas. 

3. Take the package of dough discs out of the freezer or your handmade dough and put out on the counter to soften. 

4. Preheat oven to 350.  

5. Assemble the empanadas. If you're using the store-bought discs, you can roll them out a little thinner on a generously floured counter top. Also dust the tops of the dough with flour to keep the rolling pin from sticking. 

If you're using your homemade dough, unwrap the wax paper, cut across the cylinder to make 2-inch thick pieces. Flour your counter and your rolling pin and roll a piece out in to a circle about 4 inches in diameter.

Put a cereal bowl upside down on the dough and trim off any excess. Put 2 Tbsp filling on the bottom half of the disc, keeping the edges of the disc clean. Dipping your finger in a small bowl of water, wet the edge of the dough so that when you fold the dough over the filling to make a half circle, you can press the dough together along the outer edge and it sticks, sealing the filling inside. 

Press the tines of a fork along the sealed edge (like rays shining out from the filled center) to make a pretty pattern. Or you can fold the edges on top of themselves (see pictures above).

6. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling, putting each assembled empanada on a sheet pan or cookie sheet. Prick the top of each empanada with a fork. Mix up the last egg in a small bowl and brush the tops of all the empanadas with egg wash.

6. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and shiny. Serve immediately.

Valy Steverlynck shares her favorite dish from Argentina.

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Dominican Stewed Beef

Note: In the Dominican Republic, a lunch plate of meat, rice and beans, and fried green plantains, is a classic called La bandera. In Spanish, "la bandera" means "the flag," which is to say that the dish is as Dominican as the flag itself. The kind of meat served varies. This is one of my favorites.

Makes: 10 servings
Cooking time: 30 min in pressure cooker; 80 minutes in regular pot + 1-12 hours marinating

Ingredients

For the marinade (called sazon or sofrito):

  • 1/2 head garlic
  • 1 onions
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup rough chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 chicken bouillon cub
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 Tbsp achiote powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp green olives
  • 1/2 Tbsp capers
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water only if needed

For the beef:

  • 2 1/2 pounds stew beef
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (if you're gluten-free, please be sure to use gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 2 Tbsp sazon or sofrito marinade
  • 1 tsp pepper  
  • 4 cloves garlic, mashed into a paste
  • pinch cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3-4 cups hot water
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • salt to taste

Instructions

1. Make the marinade. Peel the garlic cloves, peel the onion, and cut the onion and green pepper into quarters. Place all of the marinade ingredients in the blender with just enough water to get the blender going. Blend until smooth.

2. Reserve 2 Tbsp of the marinade for making the beef, and freeze the rest in 2-Tbsp portions in an ice tray or in piles on a sheet pan/cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, transfer the marinade nuggets into a sealed Ziplock. Use these later when making this beef dish again, rice, or soups. 

3. In a large bowl mix soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of the marinade, pepper, garlic, and cinnamon. Coat meat evenly with this mixture by massaging with hands. Cover and let marinate in fridge for 1-12 hours.

4. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed large pot (with lid) or pressure cooker pot. Once oil is hot, add meat. Once the meat is brown on the surface, add cilantro and enough water to come up "shoulder high" on the meat. Cook the meat until tender. If you're using a pressure cooker, this will be about 15 minutes. If you're using a regular pot, this could be more like an hour - you'll need to add more water to keep it saucy. When the meat is tender, add tomato paste, and cook for five minutes more. Taste and add salt if necessary.

 

 

 

Azerbaijani Beef With Chestnuts and Sour Plums

Turshu Kourma

As Zemfira and Tarlan Ahmadov from Baku, Azerbaijan, showed Lindsay Sterling in Portland, Maine. Photos by Tiffany Converse.

Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-6
Note: Persian dried golden prunes, also known as sour plums, are can be found at Middle Eastern markets. They do have pits so warn your guests. Great substitutes that are pit-free and taste great are dried apricots sliced in half, dried cherries, or dried cranberries. The cherries are my favorite because their flavor is both sweet and sour like the original golden prunes.

Note: She served this with yellow rice, a fresh vegetable platter, and pickled vegetables. 

Ingredients

  • 1 pound cubed beef (stew meat)
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ghee 
  • 1 cup Persian sour plums (substitute dried cherries, apricots, or cranberries)
  • about 40 fresh chestnuts from produce department 
  • or 20 prepared (peeled and cooked) chestnuts from a jar or Cryovac-ed

Equipment

  • large pot
  • knife
  • cutting board
  • 2 large saute pans, at least one with lid 
  • medium saute pan
  • mixing spoon
  • medium bowl
  • large bowl
  • spoon
  • strainer and pot or slotted spoon
  • 1 tsp (or eyeball it)

Instructions

1. If using prepared chestnuts you can skip this step. If using fresh chestnuts, make an "x" with a knife in the base of each chestnut, and then boil for five-seven minutes. Preferably sit with a loved one as you two then peel off the hard shells and dark skins together.

2. Cook beef cubes covered in salted water for an hour and a half or 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.

3. Soak dried fruit in a dish of water (wash any salt off sour prunes if there is any). 

4. Remove beef from broth with a slotted spoon or strain beef, reserving the both.

5. In large saute pan (with lid) on medium heat, saute onions nearly covered in oil and sprinkled generously with turmeric, until they cook down to half their original size.

6. In another large saute pan, saute meat on high heat in a small amount of oil for about ten minutes to brown the sides. Remove meat and put the meat in with the onions on medium-low.

7. Strain the dried fruit. In the large saute pan you used to saute the meat, saute the dried fruit in a teaspoon of ghee for five minutes on medium, and then add the fruit to the with the meat and onions.

8. In the same pan you used to saute the dried fruit, add another teaspoon of ghee and sautee the chestnuts until they're golden. Add the chestnuts to the onions and beef.

9. Now continue to cook all the ingredients together on medium-low for about 45 minutes mostly with lid on, occasionally turning the contents gently, and adding spoonfulls of beef broth here and there to keep everything moist and together but not saucy.

The Ahmadovs (right and center) share their favorite dishes from Azerbaijan.

Serve beef and chestnuts with Azerbaijani yellow rice, fresh vegetable platter, and pickled vegetables if you wish. 

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Bolivian Peanut Soup

Sopa de mani

As Rommy Holman, from Cochabamba, Bolivia, taught Lindsay Sterling in Cumberland, Maine.

Serves: 8
Cooking Time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 4 beef ribs or bone-in cut of beef
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1/2 green pepper, medium dice
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, medium dice
  • 10 green beans, sliced diagonally across for long, thin ovals
  • 1/2 pound skinless raw peanuts (they're not tan or brown, they're cream-colored and may be called blanched)
  • 4 yukon potatoes
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1 big clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • handful fresh cilantro
  • handful fresh parsley
  • small bunch fresh celery leaves
  • 1/4 cup peas

Accompaniments:

  • 1 tomato
  • 1 jalepeno
  • small handful cilantro
  • crusty bread (optional, omit if you eat gluten-free)

Instructions

1. Fill a soup pot 2/3 full of water, and add 1 Tbsp salt and the beef. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 hour or two until meat is tender. Keep a lid on while you simmer to keep broth from evaporating too much. As the soup simmers, skim any fat and foam that rise to the top of the soup with a big flat spoon and discard.

2. While the meat broth is brewing, cut your veggies. Cut carrots lengthwise into 1/4" thick planks and then crosswise into 1/4" strips. Dice the green and red pepper and onion. And cut the green beans on the diagonal to make thin long ovals. Put the veggies in the soup pot.

3. Make a raw peanut puree by blending the peanuts in a blender with about a cup of water until you have what looks like almost-melting vanilla ice cream. After the meat has cooked for at least an hour, add the peanut puree so the soup turns white with a creamy surface. Continue cooking for an hour. I wouldn't fudge that particular cooking time because Rommy said, "Raw peanuts need to be cooked an hour at least or it makes the tummy ache. That's what my mom says." An hour then! Stir occasionally so the peanut particles don't burn on the bottom.

4. While the peanut broth is cooking, mash the garlic, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp cumin in a mortar and pestle, adding a little salt to aid in the grinding. Don't forget to smell this because it's very satisfying. Add the garlic-spice-mash to the soup.

5. Make a bowl of fresh feathery herbs by gathering a tight bouquet of parsley and cilantro (she'd also use quilquina if she were home) and cutting across them toward your thumb with a paring knife.

6. Peel the potatoes slice them into round slices, and then slicing across the the slices to make thin strips. Cover these with water (to keep from turning brown) until soup is almost done.

7. Make homemade hotsauce, called llajua, by pulsing in a blender: fresh jalapenoes, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro (at home she would use a native herb called quilquina). Her mother would make llajua on a traditional tool, a rectangular mortar and pestle called a batan. Avoid putting the blender on full blast - it makes the hotsauce foamy, which is not authentic. Serve llajua in dishes on the table for individuals to spoon into their soup as they like.

8. After the peanut-broth has simmered for an hour, add 1 cup of rice. After the rice has cooked for about ten minutes, use cooking twine to tie a bouquet of celery leaves and parsley leaves together, and then steep the bouquet in the soup. Sprinkle dried oregano over top.

9. Now taste the soup. Add salt so that it tastes the best it can be. I added about 1 teaspoon. Take the meat out of the pot. Pull the meat off the bones, discard the bones, and put the meat back in soup.

10. Strain the potatoes. Pat them dry with paper towels. Heat a half-inch of oil in a large frying pan on medium high. Line a plate with paper towel. Once oil is hot, fry the potatoes in batches until they're golden brown. Let them cool/dry on the paper towel. (If the oil is smoking, turn the heat down. If the potatoes aren't bubbling when you put them in, turn the heat up). Sprinkle salt on the fried potatoes. 

11. When the rice in the soup is cooked, add the peas. When the peas are cooked, serve the soup in shallow bowls. Garnish each bowl with a mound of fried potatoes in the center of each bowl and fresh herbs all over top. Serve with chunks of baguette and the llajua on the table.