In the Spirit: Easy Empanadas

It's been years (decades?) since my parents whipped up a batch of empanadas. Not too long ago my dad floated the idea of baking some with jam he'd made from the guavas that grow in the front yard. Since guavas are an acquired taste, we ignored him. This past Thanksgiving it was my job to bring the tasty tuber dish. I settled on (wait for it) yams! Yams are members of the lily family and are usually sweeter and deeper orange color than sweet potatoes.

When my mother tasted my yams (we're that kind of family) she said they reminded her of her own mother's empanada filling and she got all teary. So we shoved her in the corner and continued on with our meal. But what she said stuck with me and yesterday I presented her with my version of Easy Empanadas. Because I'm her daughter and I'm easy.

Easy Empanadas
About 2 lbs of Yams
3 tablespoons of low-fat milk
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of softened butter (The real stuff. I used salted because why not?)
1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon or 1/8 if you're one of those people who don't care for cinnamon.

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Peel and cut yams into cubes, not too small, not too big and as close to the same size as possible. Place on a cookie sheet or in a Pyrex baking dish coated with cooking spray in a single layer. Give yams a another coat of spray just so they get a little more color while they roast. Bake yams until they are soft and can be pierced with fork for, about 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven. They should have some color, but not be black because that means they're brunt and no amount of butter or cinnamon will mask the taste of burnt anything.

Once the yams are soft to the touch and have a nice color to them, pull them out of the oven and toss them (carefully) into a nice sized mixing bowl. Don't try to get away with using a bowl that's too small. It might save you the trouble of washing the right sized bowl, but will add time to mixing since you'll have to be extra careful not to slosh everything over the sides.

Add the brown sugar, salt, butter and cinnamon to the bowl and mix together using a mixer or immersion blender (like I did), incorporating all the ingredients into molten deliciousness that's fairly smooth in consistency. Caramelizing the yams in the oven brings out the sugar, but you might need a little more brown sugar or salt to taste. I did. Set aside to cool.

Pastry Dough:
One (1) package of Betty Crocker Pie Crust Mix or whatever brand might be on sale

Oven should still be on at 375 degrees.

Mix according to directions on box for two crusts.

Empanada Assembly:
Depending on what size you want your empanades to be, take a piece of dough and roll it out into a rough circle. My dough got sticky, because of the temperature in the kitchen was on the warm side so I had to use a bit of flour on the surface and rolling pin. Spoon a tablespoon or two or three into the middle of the dough (1) and then fold over the dough so the filling is roughly in the middle. With your finger, the clean one, press around the filling into a half circle shape and cut of the excess dough using a knife (2). Then take a fork and press the tins around the perimeter. This is both decorative and practical since it will insure nothing spills out while the empanadas bake. You can brush the empanadas with egg whites so they'll have that very nice sheen once they come out of the oven. This step is completely optional though, as is this whole endeavor. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar (3) once cool and enjoy.


mdt said...

Fun story! I wish I could run away from my family during the holidays...

J.K. Mahal said...

It was wonderful. A lovely treat for a Monday morning.


Margo Candela said...

My dad ate my attempt at empanadas with a straight face but mentioned the guavas again...