Hispanic heritage month is a special time in the U.S., recognizing the contributions of the Latin people and celebrating our culture and heritage. It begins on September 15, which is the anniversary of independence for five Latin countries and lasts through October 15. During this month, we also celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day (September 16) with parades, festivals and large family gatherings.
I grew up learning about my culture and our family traditions through food. All of my family reunions centered around being in the kitchen making food and enjoying meals at the table. Each dish, each ingredient, has a story behind it and I still use recipes and techniques that were passed down to me by my mom and grandmother. For me, it’s a way of paying respect to my legacy and where I come from. I’m so fortunate that I get to continue sharing my traditions and culture not only with my family and friends, but also with the guests who eat at my restaurants and make my recipes at home. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, I want to share a recipe, inspired by my mom’s recipe, that has always been one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy!
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WHAT YOU NEED
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
- ½ cup masa harina (corn tortilla flour)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup warm water
- For the filling
- 1 large boiling potato, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 generous cup of Cacique® Pork Chorizo
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 3 tablespoons sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1 teaspoon dried whole oregano (preferably Mexican)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- For the Roasted Tomato-Chile de Árbol Salsa
- 1 pound plum tomatoes (about 4)
- 3-6 chiles de árbol, depending on how spicy you like it
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
HOW TO MAKE IT
- To make the dough, stir together the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the oil and water and mix well. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly to form a smooth, supple dough. (if you need more water, add it a teaspoon at a time to avoid making the dough sticky.) Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes while you make the filling.
- Put the potato in a lightly salted water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the chorizo, stirring and breaking it up, for about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes, until the onion is tnder and translucent. Stir in the potato, olives, raisins, and oregano. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a large baking sheet.
- Divide the dough into 10 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball out into a circle about 4 inches across. Place a couple of tablespoons of the filling just off-center on one circle, and fold the dough over to make a half circle. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal, and transfer the empanada to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Brush each empanada lightly with the egg. Use the tip of a pairing knife to slash a few holes in the top of each empanada. Bake until the empanadas are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Alternatively, you can fry the empanadas. Heat an inch or so of vegetable oil to 350°F in a large skillet. Fry the empanadas in batches of three, carefully flipping them over once, until they’re golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes. Transfer them to paper towels to drain, and let the oil return to 350°F before frying the next batch.
- Serve warm with the Roasted Tomato-Chile de Árbol Salsa.
- For the Roasted Tomato-Chile de Árbol Salsa: Preheat the boiler. Put the tomatoes on a baking sheet and broil, until the tomatoes are nice and charred, 10 to 12 minutes. Take the tomatoes out, let them cool just until you can handle them, slip off the skins, and cut out the tough cores. Transfer the tomatoes to a big bowl (don’t you dare forget the tomato juice that has leaked out and reduced to awesomeness on the baking sheet), then roughly chop them.
- While the tomatoes are broiling, heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles (in batches, if necessary), flipping them over occasionally, until they just begin to smoke, about 5 minutes. Set them aside in a bowl.
- Put the olive oil, onion, and garlic in a saucepan, set it over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Add the toasted chiles, tomatoes and 2 cups of water, bring to a simmer and cook for another 12 minutes, so the flavors come together. Let it cool a bit.
- Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the cilantro, salt and pepper and puree until the mixture is very smooth. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
- Store the salsa in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to a week, or in the freezer for a month.