Empanadas the Easy Way

This weekend Upward Wing had a nautical stay-cation. Let’s just posit that Swan did not craft its bluewater 40-footer with a 7’8″ keel with Lake Pontchartrain in mind. New Orleans’ lake is enormous in area, but about 12′ maximum depth across the whole thing.  It’s a gigantic saucer, and piles up quickly.  It doesn’t take much to have the depth crossing the sandbar that marks the entrance to our harbor go from an uncomfortable less-than-a-foot clearance to unpassable. This weekend was one of those occasions…we tried to get out…we SO wanted to go for a sunset sail after a long work week! But alas…we had to turn around and try five times to find a spot on the local bulkhead with enough depth to get us tied up. But we did find that spot, tied up across from the yacht club, the baseball field, the municipal waterfront amusements and a sweeping view of the lake from sunrise to sunset and just enjoyed ourselves. Time for an easy supper.

Easy Beef Empanadas

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
5 smallish or 4 large cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1  box (2) prepared pie crusts (rolled, not in pans)
Sour cream to serve

When I said I had made empanadas, my co-Pirate said “oh those are GREAT sailing food! Make ’em, freeze ’em, reheat and you can hold them in one hand while you steer with the other.”

These are not those empanadas.  Perhaps they could be, if you used far less filling and really kept the crust thick and almost doubled over on the edges, but who wants that when you’re being lazy and aborting your sailing plans to sit with a beer and enjoy the view?

Sauté beef and onion until onion softens and beef is mostly cooked through.

Add the tomato paste, garlic, and cumin and stir through for a couple of minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and cheese.

If you let the filling cool a bit at this point, you won’t have to fight the stretchy cheese as much while filing, but otherwise, keep on keeping on!

These are the pie crusts you want — sold in the refrigerated section at the grocery, for me next to the dairy and the like.

Cut each crust in half across the middle, creating four half-circles.

Unroll a half-circle and put a quarter of the filling on one side, leaving an edge that you can seal and crimp.

Fold the other side over the filling and crimp the edges closed with your fingers.  I find this works best if you wet a finger and rub water around the edges of the dough, then pinch the edges together and kind of roll the crimped edge up, being as careful as you can not to tear the dough.  Put the empanadas on your baking pan and pierce tops with a fork a few times to let steam escape.  (If you can fit all four, bonus…I had to work in two batches.  Also, if you have parchment paper, use that instead of tinfoil and it will allow them to crisp better on the bottom.)  Bake at 425 degrees for about 22 minutes, or until browned.

Twenty two minutes is just enough time to throw together a simple salad of garden-fresh arugula, a bit more cilantro, olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice, and sea salt and pepper to taste.

It’s also just enough time to pop your head out of the companionway and enjoy a beer and the view for a bit.

Serve to an appreciative Skipper and an envious Spaniel.

And in case you were admiring the napkin rings, they are my Skipper’s own creation.  I had been looking for something like this in every seaside town we visited for over a year.  When I looked at the turk’s head knot that Peter wove to mark the kingspoke on our steering wheel I realized immediately what I wanted.  He wove ten of these for me and hit them with the same lacquer he used to finish his Chesapeake Lightcraft sailboat, making them “extra-nautical.”  I love them — lightweight and indestructible.  Just right for an ocean-going galley.

 

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