Sunday, May 1, 2011

Mexican May(hem): GF Plantain Empanadas

It is now the month of May and I cannot tell you how excited I am for the recipes I am about to share. This month I will be focusing on all things Mexican! I have been waiting to share my favorite Mexican dishes for a while now and if you have tried mi Salsa Verde or Chilaquiles recipe than you know this white girl ain't no joke. =) I absolutely loved growing up in Los Angeles, not just for the great weather and ocean, but also because it exposed me to authentic Mexican culture and cuisine. Mexican food is not only my favorite food but I believe it to be the most delicious food in the world! Yeah I said it.

My first Mexican recipe for the month of May comes from a restaurant in Mexico City and was shared by Pati's Mexican Table; a cooking show on PBS featuring authentic Mexican recipes. They called it Plantain Quesadilla's, but because of the way it is cooked, how it looks, and a few minor changes I made to the recipe, I am calling them Empanadas. Whatever you call it is not the point, what matters is the end product and how much you are going to love it! It was labor intensive and time consuming, but what authentic Mexican food isn't? And more importantly, what authentic Mexican food isn't worth the time and effort?

Plantain Empanada stuffed with Refried beans

Makes from 6 to 8 large Empanadas


  • 4 large or 6 medium yellow plantains
  • 1 bag dried pinto beans
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 2 anaheim chilies
  • 2 hot banana peppers
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • safflower or olive oil
  • kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder

Rebecca's Refried Beans

There are many ways to make refried beans but I like to add a little kick to mine. To prepare: soak dried pinto beans over night in a large pot of water. Drain and refill water at least once, I like to drain twice through soaking process to remove excess acid from the beans so they are easier to digest. In the large pot filled with water, bring the beans to boil then turn heat down to low and cover and simmer for 2 hours. Do not add any salt to the beans until the end of the cooking process (your beans will turn out very hard if you add salt too early). When beans are tender, drain the water leaving a little left in the beans to keep the beans moist. Mash the beans until smooth. Dice all peppers/chilies and chop onion and cilantro. In a large pan saute chilies, onion, and cilantro in olive or safflower oil on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add mashed beans, kosher or sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder and mix together. Turn refried beans on low and cook for 10 more minutes.

Plantain Masa

The key to making the masa is selecting the right plantain. There are 3 stages you can cook a plantain: green, yellow, and black. Make sure you use only yellow plantains (they may have some black spots.) Place the whole plantains, with skin on, in a large pot filled with boiling water. Simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, until they are thoroughly cooked. Remove from the water and let cool. Peel the plantains, slice, and mash together with your hands until very smooth.

Make round balls of about 3 inches. Press in between plastic rounds in a tortilla press or roll with a roller until you get a flat disk. Place a tablespoon of refried beans right in the center and fold like a turnover and press edges together with fingers.

In a large deep skillet, add enough oil to have an inch high. One medium heat, about 5 minutes later, when it is hot but not smoking, insert the empanadas a few at a time. Let them fry, about 4-5 minutes on each side until nice and browned. Remove and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil.

Optional: Serve with Mexican crema and mi salsa verde (recipe found in blog archive January 2011)


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