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Paraguayan student Jorge Britez Aveiro shared his family recipe for empanadas over the holidays. Delicioso!

One of the benefits of my job at Emporia State is to meet and get to know many students from other countries.

They share their culture and cuisine. For example, I’ve been treated to two delicacies of Paraguay by Jorge Britez Aveiro, a master’s student in Instructional Design and Technology. Last summer he brought in a batch of the beloved traditional drink mate (MAH-tay). For those who watch “Mozart in the Jungle,” yes, THAT mate.

Jorge had a special type of container with an attached special cup and the very special metal drinking straw similar to a hollow-stemmed spoon with the bowl acting as a strainer. The ensemble, like a thermos with the cup on the side, was in an embossed leather carry pack, like an oversized water bottle on a shoulder strap; it was a gift from the elementary school students he left behind in order to come here to study. Very special!

Mate is a traditional drink in several countries in South America. It is made from the dried leaves of a large shrub similar to a holly bush called yerba mate. It is fairly high in caffeine, and for those who love it there is no substitute. Let’s just say I was glad to try it out, and to each his own.

Over the holiday break, Jorge treated Andrew and me to homemade empanadas — his own mother’s recipe!

Empanadas are so called thanks to their Spanish origin: the verb “empanar.” It literally means “wrap it in bread.”

If you wrap ground beef, onions and cabbage in bread, you have a bierock. If you wrap beef, carrots and potatoes in bread you have a pasty. If you wrap seasoned beef with hard-boiled egg and olives, you have an Argentinian empanada. In the Philippines, it’s beef, onion, potatoes, carrots, sweet peas and raisins.

However, Jorge is from Paraguay, and his mother and grandmother. And their recipe is the quintessential Paraguyan Emapanada. Jorge’s final product is beefy, with spikes of sweet from the raisins and salt from the olives. It’s delicious!

Jorge translated this family gem just for us. Let’s get cooking!

VVV

Paraguayan Empanadas

Empanada Dough:

2 cups of flour

1 cup of warm water

Oil or butter

A pinch of salt

1 whole egg

Filling:

1 pound of ground beef

2 onions

2 large tomatoes

Raisins

Olives

2 hard-boiled eggs

Oil for frying

For the dough:

Make a crown with the flour. (We would say “make a well.” — RM) In the middle, place egg. (Crack open the egg into the well. — RM)

Then add the oil or butter and knead. Add warm water little by little. Let stand for 1 hour (put inside Tupperware or otherwise sealed container).

For the filling:

Place in a pan 2 tablespoons of oil. Once hot, pour in chopped onions. After a while, add chopped tomatoes and pepper (either green or red). Season with cumin and black pepper.

Add 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs, raisins and olives. (I’m sure the Britez Aveiro family just eyeballs it; I’d say a quarter cup each.)

Knead the dough again.

Cut the dough (once flattened) into round shapes (you may use a cereal bowl). (Jorge’s empanadas are large, about 7 inches across.)

Fill with salsa (the one prepared with the ground beef, vegetables and hard-boiled eggs), before folding the dough in half. To seal the empanada, place water on the inner edges so that they will stick when they are put together. You may use a fork in order to seal the dough.

Fry in plenty of oil.

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