Growing up in Central Florida, I have always LOVED Latin Food. In fact, I would choose an Ybor City deviled crab roll and a Cuban sandwich over a cheeseburger any day of the week. Most Latin food in our area isn’t from one specific country. It’s more of a cultural hodgepodge of Caribbean islands, Spain, Mexico, and even Africa, and it is AMAZING!
While at a wine tasting at our local ABC the other night, food vendors from the area were sampling some of their most popular dishes, and my husband reminded me of how much he loves empanadas. Having grown up in Ohio, he’d never had an empanada until he met me six years ago, but now loves them. If you’ve never had or heard of an empanada, it’s basically, a hand pie. Most cultures have their own version, and the Latin is the empanada. Empanadas can be sweet or savory and are eaten at anytime of day. My personal favorites are crab filled (savory) and guava & cream cheese (sweet).
3 slices bacon
1 large Idaho russet potato-small diced
1 lb. ground sirloin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
14 oz. sofrito
12 empanada discs-thawed
Oil for frying
Avocado-Pimento Cream (dipping sauce)
1 medium Haas avocado
1 TBSP lime juice
1 large pimento pepper
½ c. nonfat plain yogurt
½ c. sour cream
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
In a large skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet, but reserve drippings and grease. Add diced potato to the bacon drippings. Fry potatoes in bacon drippings over medium high heat until potatoes are tender but crisp—approximately 10 minutes. Add ground sirloin, salt and pepper, and brown meat with potatoes. When meat is fully cooked, add thawed sofrito. Saute over medium heat until most of liquid has reduced or been absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine all dipping sauce ingredients and pulse until smooth. Pour into a bowl for serving.
When empanada filling is cool enough to work with, spoon 2-3 TBSP filling onto each empanada disc. Brush edges with water. Fold empanadas in half, press to seal edges, and crimp edges with a fork to seal in potato & beef filling.
Heat oil to 350-375 degrees. Pan fry empanadas until golden brown.
Serve with Avocado-Pimento Cream.