Sunday, 20 May 2012

Empanadas, Salsa, and Grilled Corn- from Rick Bayless!

I have been loving learning all about Mexican cooking with Rick Bayless this year with our cooking club. He's opened up new worlds of flavour for us and summer seems the perfect time for the fresh tastes of Mexican cuisine. And if we can use the grill? Even better.

This week I whipped up Rick's pork empanadas with a simple salsa and sour cream and when my husband got home he grilled up some great Mexican-style corn on the cob.

The results? A delicious Mexican banquet for a small group of friends. Or two really hungry people with enough leftover for lunches. Your choice.

Empanadas de Picadillo
Crispy Wheat Flour Turnovers with Well-Seasoned Meat
Recipe from

Yield:  16 turnovers


For the dough:
3/4 pound (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the dough
1/3 cup lard OR 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
About 3/4 cup very warm tap water

For filling and frying:
1 recipe Minced-Pork Picadillo, cooled to room temperature (Below)
Oil for deep frying, about 2 quarts, to a depth of 2 inches


1.  The dough.   Measure the flour into a bowl, then thoroughly work in the fat.  Dissolve the salt in the hot water, then work it into the flour mixture, making a medium-stiff dough.   Knead just enough to bring the dough together and smooth.  Don't overwork the dough.

2.  Resting.  Divide the dough into 16 portions, roll each into a ball, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough easier to roll).

3.  Forming the empanadas.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of dough into a 5-inch diameter circle.  Very lightly brush the perimeter with water, then scoop about 3 tablespoons of filling onto one side.  Fold the uncovered side over the filling, expelling as much air as possible, then press the two edges firmly together.  Lay the empanada on a baking sheet; continue forming turnovers with the remaining balls of dough.  Firmly seal the empanadas by pressing the two edges together with the tines of a fork or by making the rope edge described below.

4.  The optional decorative rope edge.  Hold an empanada in one hand; with the thumb and first finger of the other hand, pinch out a 1/2-inch section of the dough on the nearest end. flattening it so that it extends out 1/4-inch beyond the rest of edge.  With your thumb, curl over the top half of the pinched-out section of dough (it should look like a wave braking), then gently press it down to secure it.  Now, pinch out the next 1/2-inch section of dough, curl the top side over, and press it down.   Continue until you reach the other end.  Fold the last pinched-out section back on itself, finished the seal.  Complete the rope edge on the remaining empanadas and return them to the baking sheet.   The empanadas can be frozen at this point and held for several weeks.

(I have a handy little 4-inch pocket press)

5.  Frying the empanadas.  About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oil to 350 degrees.  Fry the empanadas 2 or 3 at a time, until deep golden, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven until all are fried.  Serve at once.

(I sealed mine with egg, for extra measure. Brushed with egg wash and baked at 400 for about 20 minutes.) 

Picadillo Oaxaqueno
Minced Pork with Almonds, Raisins, and Sweet Spices
Recipe from

Yield:  about 3 1/3 cups


1 1/2 pounds (3 medium-large) rip tomatoes, roasted, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
OR one 28-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 pounds lean, coarse-ground pork
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns (or about 3/4 teaspoon ground)
1-inch Mexican cinnamon stick (or about 1 teaspoon ground)
5 cloves (or about 1/8 teaspoon ground)
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 canned chipotle chile, seeded and minced


1.  The tomatoes.  For a picadillo using peeled fresh tomatoes, place them in a blender or food processor with 1/3 cup water, then process until smooth.  Using canned tomatoes, simply puree them with their liquid.

2.  The meat.  Heat the oil in a very large (12-inch) skillet over medium.  When hot, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 7 or 8 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.  Add the pork in a thin layer and fry, stirring frequently, until cooked and lightly brown.  (If quite a bit of fat has rendered from the meat, drain it off.)

3.  Finishing the picadillo.  Pulverize the pepper, cinnamon, and cloves in a mortar or spice grinder, then add to the skillet along with the tomato puree, raisins and vinegar.  Simmer until reduced to a thick, homogeneous mass, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes.
Toast the almonds for about 10 minutes in a 325 degree oven, stir into the filling along with the minced chipotle.  Season with salt, usually about 1 1/2 teaspoons, and it's ready.

Salsa Mexicana
Recipe from

Makes 1 1/2 cups


1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Hot green chiles to taste (usually 1 to 2 serranos or 1 small jalapeƱo), stemmed, seeded (if you wish) and finely chopped
12 ounces (about 2 medium-small round or 4 to 5 plum) red-ripe tomatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
About 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


Scoop the onion into a strainer, rinse under cold tap water, shake off the excess and transfer to a medium bowl.  Add the green chile, tomatoes, cilantro and lime.  Stir well, taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.  Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Hello Yellow!
Charcoal Grilled Corn with Cream, Cheese and Chile
Elote Asado
Recipe from

Makes 6 Servings


6 ears fresh sweet corn, in their husks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
About 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream mixed with a little milk or cream
1/3 cup crumbled Mexican queso anejo or queso fresco, or cheese like parmesan, feta or farmer’s cheese
About 1 tablespoon hot powdered chile


Preliminaries.   About an hour before serving, place the ears of corn in a deep bowl, cover with cold water and weight with a plate to keep them submerged.  Light your charcoal fire and let it burn until the bed of coals is medium-hot; adjust the grill 4 inches above the fire.

Grill the corn.   Lay the corn on the grill and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, turning frequently, until the outer leaves are blackened.  Remove, let cool several minutes, then remove the husks and silk.  About 10 minutes before serving, brush the corn with melted butter, return to the grill and turn frequently until nicely browned.  Serve right away, passing the cream, cheese and powdered chile for your guests to use to their own liking.

Soaking in Water, Roasting in the Husk:  The preliminary soaking keeps the outside from burning right off the bat and the inside damp enough to steam.  First roasting in the husk penetrates the corn with leafy flavor, but the step is often omitted—especially with sweet corn.

Corn: The meaty, nonsweet field corn used in Mexico can be prepared as directed; those who like no-nonsense eating will love the texture.

Powdered Chile: Powdered chile de arbol is the cayenne of Mexico. My favorite choices, though, are powdered guajillo and New Mexico chile - they’re less hot, so I can put more on.

Timing and Advance Preparation
Start soaking and fire building an hour before serving. There is little else to do in advance; if you plan to have your charcoal fire going for a long time, you may complete the in-husk steaming well ahead of the final grilling.

Traditional Variations
Fresh Corn, Fried (Esquites)
In Toluca and Mexico City the corn is occasionally prepared as follows: Cut the kernels from 6 cobs, then fry in 3 tablespoons lard or vegetables oil (or butter) with hot green chile to taste (seeded and sliced) and 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped epazote. Season with salt.

Rick Bayless @IHCC button rounded IHCC