Meat Free Month is over.
I didn’t immediately go out and order a whole cow or anything. I did feel a little lighter though. And we had to think a little more about what’s for dinner.
The one thing I had been looking forward to was breakfast fried rice with pulled pork at West End Coffee House.
It lived up to expectations. But then I ate vegetables and salad the rest of the day. And plenty since.
Over the weekend Kid and I (and GF) spent some time at the Caloundra Music Festival. We saw some music, went on a Ferris wheel and Kid had fun doing a circus workshop, some trampoline bungee thingy and jumping in a jumping castle.
And of course at a festival there is food. We tried dumplings, Vietnamese baguettes, chicken karaage and locally made ice blocks. We skipped the churros though. All good fun, tasty food eaten with your fingers, in a bun or on a stick.
So this week we are making our own festival food. Empanadas.
These are a tradition to most Spanish speaking countries and come in many different flavours and sizes. Basically a savoury filling baked in pastry as a turn-over.
Very hands on in the making, good for getting Kid involved.
Pulled Pork Belly Empanadillas ( small empanadas).
1 cup wholemeal flour – plain is fine, I like wholemeal.
1/2 cup besan flour
180ml sour cream
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
egg for brushing
almond meal or polenta for scattering – totally optional.
Put it all in a food processor and pulse until crumbly. Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and knead into a ball. If it’s sticky, spread a little flour on the bench. Let it sit somewhere cool under a tea towel for at least an hour before use. This allows the dough to relax and makes it easier to roll.
1kg piece of skinless pork belly – diced. Ask the butcher to do this for you.
1 brown onion – diced small
4 garlic cloves – crushed
1 medium carrot – diced small
1 stick celery – diced small
1 litre chicken stock- see below
1 tablespoon chipotle chilli – see below
3 medium cooking tomatoes – lightly roasted, peeled, chopped.
2 anise stars
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Sauté the belly in a hot pan until brown all over, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the spices and cook until aromatic. Add everything else, turn the heat down and simmer super slowly for 3-4 hours.
Lots of fat and a little froth will come to the top, skim some off.
The French word for this is ‘ecume’ if you want to show off to your family or friends. The word itself refers to impurities.
Do this for the stock too.
When the meat is falling apart, lift it out into a bowl, shred it with a couple of forks and return to the pot. Cook until the sauce has reduced enough to just cover the pork. Allow to cool in the fridge before making the empanadas.
Totally optional here. You could just as easily use a tetra pak but for the love of god please stay away from powdered stock cubes (I am required by the chefs code to say this, plus it’s true).
I made about 3 litres here for the same cost as a 2 litre tetra pak from the supermarket. Mine is better and I know exactly what went in it.
Unfortunately, (due to time constraints and festival attendance) I did this by myself whilst Kid was school. Next time Kid.
4 chicken wings ( about 1/2 a kilo) necks are a good one to use too
2 sticks celery
2 small carrots
some spring onion offcuts – or not
3 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves – from my own garden. Dried is also fine.
1 anise star
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 litres water
In a hot pan or small stock pot brown the chicken pieces gently. This is for a little extra flavour and colour. You don’t have to do this. You could just bung it all in a pot with some water.
When the chicken has some colour add everything else and sauté until it’s giving off a nice aroma, then add the water.
Get it almost boiling then simmer very gently for 4-5 hours. Don’t let it boil too much otherwise it will be a murky colour. Don’t put a lid on for the same reason. Top up the water from time to time.
Strain and refrigerate. Discard the solids.
I’ve frozen the remainder of my stock in small amounts in zip-lock bags, ready to pull out next time I need it. Miso soup anyone?
What Kid Did
Kid rolled out the dough and cut out little discs with a pastry cutter.
Mental note – purchase a rolling pin at some point.
We tried the soy sauce bottle at first but had a leakage issue.
The salt shaker did the job, ingenuity is a fine thing.
Then Kid put the filling in, folded the pastry parcels and sealed them with a technique I call ‘pinch and fold’. I first learnt this making samosas for a Thai lady named Nang 22 years ago.
It takes a little practise. And we are forgiving of imperfections.
Kid did a great job for a first timer with a chef/dad looking over her shoulder.
After we had them ‘folded and pinched’, Kid beat an egg and brushed them gently then sprinkled some almond meal over the top. 25-30 minutes at 180*c should see you there. Check them along the way. Our oven is incredibly uneven so we had to rearrange the trays from time to time.
Lastly kid helped make a lovely light salad to go with. We scoffed the lot. Pigs.
This was a pretty cool way to cook with Kid. Hands on engagement and fun too.
The Wash Up
Making everything yourself is thoroughly satisfying. Particularly the smell of home made stock wafting around the flat. There are other options for fillings obviously.
Leftovers for a start – curry, mash, bolognaise, vegetables, rice..Whatever you have around. These are a filling meal with some salad and we used the leftover sour cream and chopped cucumber as a dip. Great for entertaining too. Make small ones for finger food.
But you should make this pork mix. Alternatively serve it over rice, in quesadillas or tacos. You get the idea.
* Chipotle chilli are dried and smoked Jalapenos. Normally sold whole in tins in adobe sauce. They come to us from Mexican cuisine but are used in a lot of different contexts these days. I normally remove the whole lot from the tin and puree it for cooking purposes. Mix some with mayo for an awesome slaw dressing or chip dip.
I’ve just read on another blog that somewhere in the world Vegetarian Appreciation Month starts on the first of October. Oh.
I gotta get out more 🙂