Saturday, May 1, 2010

Homemade Refried Beans - Part Two

Right off the bat, I've just got to say that I'm feeling pretty frustrated with this post. We got a new computer and the last installation disc for our Photoshop program is missing. Hence, no Photoshop.  This means pictures that are too dark or look too greenish/bluish from my kitchen lighting (I hate trying to take pictures with overhead lighting) because I can't adjust them. It's driving me nuts so I had to give this disclaimer for my not-so-hot picture quality.  Phew. Feeling a little better already.

Anyway, now that you have your refried beans (you made them, right?), I've got a super-easy and tasty recipe for them:  Empanadas! It never fails, every time I make these I can't help but think of the Mexican restaurant where I waitressed all through college. The whole time I worked there, the menu said they served "emapanadas."  I would point it out to the managers (along with the other spelling and grammatical errors. Did I mention I was an English major during those years?), but they never fixed it. I got to the point that a lot of the serving staff just called them "emapandas" for the heck of it - not good though when you accidentally call it that when you're describing the menu to customers. Anyway...

I found this recipe in an issue of Real Simple magazine back in 2005, which called for canned beans, a tube of pizza dough, some cheese, and a jar of salsa. I used to make these all the time, but the husband and I got a little burned out on them, so I stopped for a while. Then, about a year ago or so, I came across the ripped-out magazine page in my recipe file and decided to try making empanadas again, but with homemade pizza dough instead. Even with the extra step of making the dough, this recipe only takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.

My neighbor, Lisa, has THE easiest pizza dough recipe and it's not only easy, but it's also really good. And it works perfectly when used for empanadas. I shared it a few months ago on my homemade pizza post (please tell me you tried it - it's soooo good), but I'll post it again, just for kicks.

In a medium bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 1 cup lukewarm water. After much practice and trial and error, I've learned that it is really important that the water not be too hot. Think a little cooler than bathwater. This will improve the stretchiness and consistency of the dough - whenever I use too-hot water, my dough is crappy and breaks when I stretch it out. Next, mix in 1 tablespoon of yeast. Let it sit for ten minutes.  Once it has bubbled and soaked for ten minutes, add three cups of flour.  Knead the ball of dough for five minutes, then let it rest for 15 minutes.

This is about when you should preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Once the dough has rested for 15 minutes, break the dough into six balls. Depending on the size of the empanadas you want to make, this can be altered (as in, more small balls of dough for smaller empanadas, big chunks of dough for big empanadas). 

Flatten each ball of dough and roll out. The recipe I follow says to roll it so it's an 8-inch round, but I usually just eyeball it. You want it to be big enough so it holds the filling and has enough extra space to allow you to fold it in half.

Once all your dough is all rolled out and ready, the next step is to fill the empanadas. You can really fill these with whatever you want, but the recipe I follow calls for refried beans, cheese, and salsa.  Enter the awesome homemade refried beans.  You can use any type of salsa, either jarred (I had some leftover chile verde salsa and I opened a jar of the salsa I canned last fall) or a fresh salsa (looooove homemade pico de gallo). Same goes for the cheese - I used cheddar this time, but I've also used monterey jack and pepper jack cheese.

I love this recipe because of its versatility. You could put anything you want in these, really. In fact, I'm currently trying to figure out what to fill this with so that it's a calzone instead of an empanada. I'll report my findings when I decide (I'll also take any suggestions, too).

On each flattened piece of dough, on one half of the round, put a spoonful or two of refried beans, a spoonful of salsa, and a good helping of cheese. Again, I don't really follow specific measurements - I just kind of eyeball it and hope that it will fit when I fold the dough over.  If you want some guidelines, the recipe I clipped said to "spread some of the beans, then top with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the salsa, and 2 tablespoons of the cheese." Take it for what it's worth. I say just eyeball it.

Now here's where it can get kind of messy. I can't even blame my lack of Photoshop for these pictures. My empanadas just didn't look all that pretty. They've looked better in the past, but we were all really hungry and I was just whipping these babies out.  Plus, I thought the pictures would've turned out better than they did. Stupid overhead lighting...

Fold over the other half of each round of dough, covering the filling completely, and press the edges together with your finger to seal it (I might add, feel free to stuff back in any of the filling that leaked out). 

On a rimmed baking sheet, spread a tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer the empanadas to the baking sheet. Using another tablespoon of oil, brush the tops of each empanada.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. 

Sure, they're not much to look at. Kind of looks like a clam sticking out a yellow cheese tongue.  But let me tell you, these things are always a hit.  This was the first time I used homemade refried beans and they made the empanadas even better. Noticeably better.  Serve with a nice dollop of sour cream, maybe some guacamole. Another plus: these reheat really well, so they're great the next day for lunch. Buen provecho!


This Place is a Disaster! said...

Those look so sloppy, unproffessional and messy . . . SOOOOO YUMMMY!!!

Jenn said...

Can I just spend a day hanging out with you? Please! I need some of you in me! I mean that is the most awesome way

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