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Char-Grilled Empanadas with Spicy Pico de Gallo and Cooked Black Beans with Sofrito

Chef Lorena Garcia (Top Chef Masters) shares her ultimate recipe for empanadas. It may look like a lot of steps, but, trust us, the final bite is so worth the extra effort. Lorena uses her recipe for Cooked Black Beans with Sofrito when making these, but feel free to use store-bought if you want to save a step.

Char-Grilled Empanadas with Spicy Pico de Gallo
Makes 20

Ingredients

For the beef filling:
1 pound lean (92/8) ground beef
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 small red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and finely chopped
1/2 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 small shallot, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ají dulce or jarred pickled cherry peppers
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the sweet plantains:
2 ripe (black skin) plantains, peeled
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
Sea salt
For the spicy pico de gallo:
1 jalapeño, diced small
1 small red onion, peeled and diced small
3 green onions, diced small
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 medium red pepper, peeled, seeded, and diced small
1 medium green pepper, peeled, seeded, and diced small
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and diced small
Juice of 3 limes
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 bunch cilantro, chopped small
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the empanadas:
1 cup canned black beans or Lorena’s Cooked Black Beans with Sofrito (see recipe below)
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
20 frozen discos for empanadas, thawed
Water, for assembling
Egg wash (1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water), for baking

Directions

1. Make the beef filling: In a 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat, cook beef, stirring frequently, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and drain.

2. Return the skillet over medium-high heat and add oil, onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, shallot, garlic, and aji dulce. Sauté until onions are translucent and vegetables are cooked down, about 15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in cooked beef and butter until well combined. Set aside to cool. Taste for seasoning.

3. Make the sweet plantains: Cut each plantain in 1/2 and then slice each half in 1/2 lengthwise for a total of 8 pieces.

4. In a large heavy skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Fry the plantains until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Let cool. Dice in small pieces. Set aside.

5. Make the spicy pico de gallo: In a nonreactive bowl, stir together jalapeño, onion, garlic, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, leek, lime juice, vinegar, olive oil, cilantro, salt, sugar, and pepper until well combined. Let sit at least 10 minutes.

6. Make the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

7. In a large bowl, combine beef filling, sweet plantains, cooked black beans, and queso fresco until well combined.

8. On a clean work surface, place one disco round. Fill the center with 2 ounces beef mixture. Using a finger dipped in water, trace the edges of the disco round. Fold in half to create a half moon and, using a fork, press edges together to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining disco rounds. Lightly brush each with egg wash.

9. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.

10. Heat a grill on high. Grill empanadas until grill marks appear, about 1 minute per side.

11. Top with spicy pico de gallo to serve.

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Cooked Black Beans with Sofrito
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

For the sofrito:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, halved, seeded, and finely chopped
10 small garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Pinch cayenne
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

For the cooked black beans:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can black beans with juice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions

1. Make the sofrito: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add onion, green bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, coriander, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaves.

2. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add the sofrito and cook 1 minute. Stir in the black beans with juice, cilantro, and salt. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

 

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