Empanadas with Walnut Cream by M. Kuehn

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There are simply hundreds of recipes for Empanadas, a meat filled pastry which is eaten all over Southern Europe, Latin America and parts of South East Asia. The filling for this particular pastry hails from Mexico and uses poblano chilies which are mild but have a lovely flavour.
The walnut cream is well worth the trouble, It’s just sublime.
TIP Buy only the sweetest tomatoes for the filling. Buying cheap, insipid, watery tomatoes is about as pointless as an orchestral version of Clare de Lune. Yuk. Get your chillis from The Cool Chile Company.
For the pastry
1kg white flour
100 gr warm pork fat
100gr butter (or 200 if you can’t get the pork fat) melted

Salted water to mix
For the filling

700gr minced beef
3 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 poblano chilis
2 sweet and ripe tomatoes, diced
handful of freshly chopped coriander
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of clove powder
half an apple, grated
2 tbs pine nuts
2 tbs slivered almonds
1 egg yolk

For the Walnut Cream

3tbs ricotta cheese
3 tbs walnut halves
1 tbs sherry
1/2 tsp sugar
4 tbs sour cream
1 tbs double cream
1/2 tsp sea salt

First, make the walnut cream as it needs to be refrigerated for several hours.
Whisk the sour cream and double cream together and then whisk in the salt. Leave in the fridge for eight hours. Then blend all the ingredients together until smooth and creamy.

Pre-heat the oven to 190oC

Pour the flour into a large bowl. Add the butter and fat and incorporate with a fork. Slowly add the salted water to form a ball.  Kneed on a lightly floured surface till very smooth. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for about twenty minutes. Roll out to about 3-4mm width and cut out circles using a pastry cutter.

Saute the onions in a pan till they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chili, tomatoes, thyme, cinnamon, cloves and cook for five minutes on a low heat. Add the meat and cook for a further five minutes. Now add the apple, almonds and pine nuts and a pinch of salt and when the apple is very soft, the mixture is now ready to use.

The easiest way to make these pastries is to put a spoon of filling on one half of a circle of pastry, fold over to make a half moon and take a fork and press down on the edge of the half moons. Place all the pastries on a very lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for twenty minutes.

Arrange the empanadas on a large serving plate and place a bowl of the crema in the middle for everyone to take a large dollop – a lot of work for something that will disappear in a nano second but boy, I can tell you these are some of the best pies I have ever got my chops round.

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