All of you can tell when my budget for food is run out when I start making Mexican food. It’s delicious and very economical. We usually eat about 1/2 Mexican food and 1/2 “other” food – which ends up being mostly Italian and some American. That way I can splurge on some great meals (a great cheese and super-quality marinara, for example) and balance them out with cheaper meals (tostadas or empanadas, for example).
Empanadas (serves 3-4)
This recipe requires that you work with maseca. It’s what I make all my tortillas from since the HEB on DeZavala stopped making corn tortillas. I must admit, I’ve worked with Maseca and masa (the dough that is made by mixing Maseca with water) quite a bit. This recipe is probably not for Maseca beginners. I would say that tortilla-making is for beginners, and if you have that down, you’ll be fine. If any of you would be interesting in learning how to make corn tortillas (gluten-free!) leave a comment.
Abt. 2 c. Maseca and 2c. water, enough to make soft, not sticky, dough (masa)
3 ” of oil for frying (lard would be the traditional choice, but that white brick found in the baking aisle is NOT lard!)
Fillings: Ham, turkey, ground beef (picadillo) chicken, mozzarella or other delicious melting cheese.
1/2 lb. deli ham, chopped in ribbons and 3/4 c. chopped queso oaxaca (fresh melting cheese much like mozzarella)
1/4. cup roasted red salsa (any salsa will suffice)
1/4 c. queso anejo or fresco (optional)
Heat oil on med. high until very hot, test oil by adding small ball of masa to it. If it fries up without jumping out of the pan and making a loud pop (too hot) it’s ready. The empanadas should fry up in about 4 minutes, 2 per side, otherwise your oil’s not hot enough and you’ll get a chewy one.
Take a large ball of masa (3″) and press it in your *tortilla press (lined with plastic). Add 1 tbsp. cheese, and 1 tsp. ham. Close tightly by folding plastic in half and pushing down. If you want to get really fancy, take one side of the plastic down and press seam with a fork or cut in a wavy shape with a small paring knife. Add to hot oil. Flip after 2 mintues. When ready, both sides should be dark golden brown (these will be crispy). Using tongs, remove from oil, allowing to drain excess oil back into pan, and place on a layed of paper towels to drain. If making for a large crowd, heat oven to warm setting and place directly on rack in oven to keep warm. (Warning – If left too long this takes away from crispiness.) Repeat until desired quantity reached.
Plate topped with salsa, crema, and additional cheese. Serve green salad alongside.
*I have an extra tortilla press if anyone wants it! It’s only for beginners, though.