Disclosure: The lovely folks at Page Street Publishing provided me with a copy of Stuffed:The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook
as well as an extra copy to give away to a wonderful reader. Thanks, y’all! All links to Stuffed are affiliate links, so if you buy through my links, I will earn a few cents while your price will be in no way affected. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Cuban Sandwich Empanadas
Let me introduce you to the Cuban Sandwich Empanada. I’m pretty sure there is really nothing else to say. I should just stand out of the way as you stampede to make the recipe. Since I’m me, though, I shall say more. Tender, juicy, garlicky-citrusy mojo pork; sweet and salty ham; mellow Swiss cheese; sour, acidic dill pickles; the bite of yellow mustard. These things should be in that song. You know the one.
Raindrops on roses. Whiskers on kittens.
Hot Cuban sammies I must get my mitts on.
Empanadas are endlessly customizable, so if you feel like making some, there is no real reason for you to dust off your Argentinian or Caribbean cookbooks to find authentic filling combinations, although you certainly could if you wanted. Just shove whatever you want to in them, fold them over, crimp them up and then bake those little guys until they are delightfully light, golden brown and crisp on the outside.
My general take on most cooking projects is to use what you like and what you have on hand.
However, I did have to draw the line on the Cuban filling. The Cuban sandwich is such a specific flavor combination that I wanted to be true to it while still taking these Cuban Sandwich Empanadas for a test drive. So, whereas Dan’s recipe calls for slow roasting the pork in red wine vinegar, Worcestershire and mustard, I felt it necessary to bring more of Cuba to the pork and leave the British Isles out of it entirely.
Other than that departure, I followed the rest of the instructions to the letter. What I ended up with was, in short, glorious. The Beloved and I made all sorts of swoony noises as we ate our delicious Cuban Sandwich Empanadas.
The recipe, as written by Dan, appears toward the end of this post. If you’d like to make a more traditional Cuban-style pork, you can substitute bottled mojo sauce, which is available in most larger grocery stores and certainly at your local Latin markets. Or, you can do what I did and follow Tyler Florence’s procedure for making the pork. I know, I know. Tyler Florence isn’t exactly Cuban, but he respects the cuisine and I owned almost all the ingredients called for (except the chicken stock which I just left out. Nothing bad happened. The pork was delicious). And yes, I totally used my pressure cooker which I am now in complete love with.
Hey, why not watch me make Cuban Sandwich Empanadas from start to finish?
Here is the recipe for The Ultimate Cuban Sandwich from Tyler Florence should you wish to go in that direction. Rather than use pork shoulder, I went with Dan’s recommended cut, country-style pork ribs. Mine were on the bone, but the meat slid right off after its ride in the pressure cooker.
Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook
As you have probably gathered by now, Dan Whalen is not overly interested in providing us with an authentic experience with ethnic cuisine. But that’s okay. There are plenty of books out there that are Bibles for almost any cuisine you can think of. What Whalen is interested in providing us is food that surprises, delights and comforts. When he wrote Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook, he was probably thinking of all the flavors that he loves. All the textures. And how he could put these flavors and textures together in new ways so that we would all want to buy a copy. He has done a smashing job.
Let me share with you just a sampling of his Fusion Comfort Food. (I just made that up. Feel free to use it, Dan).
- Tomato Basil Stuffed French Toast, p 22: Italy meets France meets our faces
- Cheeseburger Slider Steamed Buns, p 24: Diner Dim Sum
- Cobb Summer Rolls, p 58: Vietnam at The Brown Derby
- Cheesesteak Pot Stickers, p 86: Asia comes to The City of Brotherly Love
- Chana Masala Stuffed Grape Leaves, p 165: Persian-Indian Take Out
- Fish and Chip Tots, p 162: England meets Napoleon Dynamite
- Peach Habanero Stuffed Pizzelles, p187: A Georgia/Mexico/Italy dessert mash-up
All of these recipes are not only intriguing to me, but they are inspiring. He’s pulling foods from so many cultures and shoving them together so that hungry Americans can try something they’ve never had before. And since the US is often described as The Melting Pot, it seems to work.
If none of the recipe titles listed above pique your interest, this book may not be for you. But if you are the kind of cook who is looking for inspiration and exploration and making tasty food, if you look at that list and say to yourself, “Oh, I never thought of that before!” and then you start coming up with your own adaptations, then you will probably want to pick up a copy of Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook. Which brings me to The Giveaway.
Recipe from Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook by Dan Whalen. (Page Street Publishing; August 2013) Printed with permission.Cuban Sandwich Empanadas
Makes: 8 small empanadas Heat: 0.5 Pig-Out Scale: 6.8
- 1 3/4 cups (210g) flour (I used all purpose)
- 1/2 cup (112g) butter, chopped into 1/2-inch (1/3 cm) cubes and frozen for 30 minutes
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup (80ml) water
- (I also added about 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt)
- ¾ pound (340 g) boneless country-style pork ribs
- ¼ cup (60 ml) red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup (44 g) mustard
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml)
- Worcestershire sauce
- 16 pickle slices
- 16 Swiss cheese slices
- 8 ham slices
Mix the flour and butter in a bowl.
With your fingers, work the butter into the flour. Then beat the egg into the water and pour the water/egg mixture into the flour and mix with a fork.
Once it comes together, begin kneading with your hands. Knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth.
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C, or gas mark 2).
Chop the pork into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes.
Toss in the vinegar, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
Place in an oven-safe frying pan and cover with foil.
Bake for 2½ hours, stirring once halfway through the cooking time.
Remove from the oven and shred the pork with the cooking liquid.
Roll out your empanada dough into 8 thin rounds.
Place one-eighth of the pork filling, 2 pickle slices, 2 cheese slices and 1 ham slice on each round.
Fold the round over and seal by lightly wetting the edge with your finger.
Fold little bits of dough over itself to form that famous empanada look (see picture on page 16).
You can bake or fry these empanadas. To fry, heat vegetable oil in a Dutch oven to 350F (180C). Gently drop in your empanada and let it cook until browned, about 2 inutes. If you want to bake it, set the oven for 400F (200C, or gas mark 6), and lightly flour a baking sheet. Mix the egg with the water (1 egg and 1/4 cup water) and beat until smooth.. Place your empanadas on the sheet and brush nice and evenly with the eg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
I had a lot of leftover pork. I am planning on reheating it with black beans to serve over rice.
I made the dough in the food processor and it worked perfectly. I combined the flour and salt and pulsed a few times. Then I added the butter and processed until I had a nice mealy texture.
I poured in the egg/water mixture through the spout while the processor was on and then pulsed until it came together in a nice ball.
I baked the empanadas, and I suggest that you do, too. They are perfect baked.
The Stuffed Cookbook Giveaway–CLOSED It’s pretty easy to enter to win a copy of Stuffed: The Ultimate Comfort Food Cookbook. I shall give you three ways to enter. You are welcome.
How to Enter–each entry requires a separate comment Leave a comment here telling me what your favorite stuffed food is. Like Dan Whalen’s facebook page, The Food in My Beard and then come back and leave another comment saying that you did. Tweet about this giveaway and then come back and leave a comment saying that you did: For Cuban Sandwich Empanadas&3 chances 2win Stuffed by @tFimB http://pastrychefonline.com/?p=8046 @PastryChfOnline &Page Street Publishing! Leave the url of your tweet in the comments (find your tweet, click “Expand” then “Details” and copy the url) And that’s it! Up to three chances to win a copy of Stuffed! Open to US and Canadian readers only. Giveaway is open through Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 7pm, EST. At that time, I will choose a winner using Random.org. Please make sure a valid email address is associated with your comment so I can contact you. Page Street will be sending you your new cookbook! Winner has 48 hours to get in touch or I will draw an alternate winner.
Thanks so much for stopping by, for reading and commenting. Good luck in the giveaway, and have a wonderful day.