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Recipe: Pasticho Venezolano | Venezuelan Lasagna

18 Jan

One of my favorite dishes is Pasticho Venezolano. The beef, the pasta, and the cheese… what’s not to like?  Venezuelan Pasticho is a little different than your regular lasagna.  The main difference is that Venezuelan Pasticho doesn’t include ricotta cheese, and to me that is PERFECT, because I don’t care for ricotta.  Our Pasticho is plain and simple, but that is what I love about it, you can appreciate all the flavor of the seasoned ground beef, the mozzarella and the pasta without any one of them overpowering the other, like ricotta does.  We do make it creamier and more interesting by adding layers of béchamel sauce. YUM!

What you need:
– 1 or 2 boxes of lasagna pasta
– Grated Parmesan Cheese
– Sliced Mozzarella Cheese
Beef Filling
– 1 lb. Ground Beef
– ½ Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
– ½ Tablespoon Soy Sauce
– ½ Tablespoon Adobo
– 1 Tablespoon Butter
– 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
– 1 Onion
– 1 Garlic Clove
– 1 28 oz can of cut tomatoes, peeled
– 2 Tablespoons Red or White Wine
– 1 Teaspoon Salt
– ½ Teaspoon Pepper
– 1 Teaspoon Oregano
– 1 Tablespoon Cilantro
– 1 6 oz. can of tomato paste
– 1 Teaspoon Basil
Béchamel Sauce
– 2 Tablespoon Butter
– 2 Tablespoon Flour
– 1 1/3 Cup Milk, hot
– 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
– 1/8 Teaspoon Pepper

Preparation:
Beef Filling
1.  Spice up the ground beef with the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and adobo.  Set aside.

Add Condiments to Ground Beef

Add Condiments to Ground Beef

2.  Add the butter and olive oil in a pan and heat it up just a bit until butter is melted.  Then add the onion and garlic, finely chopped, and cook until golden brown.  About 4 minutes.

Heat up Butter and Olive Oil

Heat up Butter and Olive Oil

Add Finely Chopped Onion

Add Finely Chopped Onion

Add Garlic

Add Garlic

3.  On a separate pan begin to brown the ground beef.  Remember to drain the excess oil when done.

Brown Ground Beef

Brown Ground Beef

4.  Blend the tomatoes using a blender or food processor.
5. Add the tomatoes, wine, salt, pepper, oregano, and finely chopped cilantro to the onions and garlic.
6.  Combine the meat with the tomato mixture.

Combine Beef With Tomato Mix

Combine Beef With Tomato Mix

7.  Add the tomato paste (diluted in water as directed on the can), and then add the basil as well.
8.  Continue to cook at low heat, covered, for a while until the sauce reduces and thickens.  If it is too dry, you can add more tomato paste, but don’t add water or the sauce will bee too thin.

Cook at Low Heat

Cook at Low Heat

Béchamel Sauce
9.  In a small pot, heat up the butter.
10.  Add the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Lower the heat.
11.  Beating with a whisk, begin to slowly add the hot milk.
12.  Add salt and pepper, and a touch of nutmeg if you wish.
13.  Cook until it thickens and set aside.

Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel Sauce

Cooking the Pasta
14.  Follow the instructions on the box of the pasta.
15.  Some pasta boxes state that you can cook them directly in the oven.  I prefer to boil the pasta first, even if the box says you do not need to do so.  Boil the pasta as you would any other pasta.  Boil enough water, add a bit of salt and olive oil, then add the pasta into the pot and cook until tender.  You can leave the pasta “al dente” so that they can finish cooking up in the oven.
16.  Lay the pasta flat on a baking sheet, separated so they wont stick to one another.

Lay Pasta Flat

Lay Pasta Flat

Making the Pasticho
17.  Preheat the oven at 350º.
18.  Grease a 19” x 13” Pyrex with butter.

Greasy Pyrex with Butter

Greasy Pyrex with Butter

19.  Begin by making a layer of pasta so that there are no spaces left between them at the bottom of the Pyrex.

Begin with a layer of pasta

Begin with a layer of pasta

20.  Add Béchamel sauce on top of the pasta.

Béchamel Sauce goes on top of pasta

Béchamel Sauce goes on top of pasta

21.  Add a layer of the beef filling.
22.  Add a layer of Parmesan cheese.  You can add a layer of ham if you wish.

Layer of Beef, and then Layer of Parmesan Cheese

Layer of Beef, and then Layer of Parmesan Cheese

23.  Repeat: Layer of pasta, layer of béchamel sauce, layer of beef filling, but now add a layer of Mozzarella.

Repeat: Pasta, Béchamel Sauce, Beef, but now add Mozzarella

Repeat: Pasta, Béchamel Sauce, Beef, but now add Mozzarella24. Repeat until you have used all the beef filling. 25. The last layer would be one layer of pasta, béchamel sauce and Parmesan cheese. You can also add bits of butter here and there, about a tablespoon all over. 26. Place in the oven until the top layers are golden. Make sure you check it so it does not burn. Since we boiled the pasta, it is already cooked. What you are looking for is for all the layers of cheese to melt and for it to all be compacted together. So it could be done in 10 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.Bake until cheese is melted and top layer is golden

27.  Serve with tostones, garlic breadsticks and salad (Great Salad recipe coming up next week).

Pasticho Venezolano | Venezuelan Pasticho

Pasticho Venezolano | Venezuelan Pasticho

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Croquetas de Atún (Tuna Croquettes)

21 Dec
Ingredients for Tuna Croquettes

Ingredients for Tuna Croquettes

What you need:

– 12 oz. Tuna (1 large can, drained)
– 1 Tomato
– 1 Onion, medium or small
– 1 Garlic Clove, thinly chopped
– 1 Potato, medium to large
– 2 Eggs
– 1 Cup Bread Crumbs
– 2 to 4 Sprigs Cilantro or Parsley, thinly chopped
– 1 Tablespoon Adobo Seasoning
– 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
– 2 Cups Oil, for frying

Preparation:

1. Since the potato will take a bit to cook, start with the potato.   Peel the potato and rinse it, place in a large enough pot, cover it by one inch with enough water and boil until fork tender.   You can cut in smaller pieces to make this process go faster.

Boil the Potato

Boil the Potato

2. Now you are going to work on a “Sofrito”, or a combination of ingredients and condiments cut into very small pieces and sautéed together.   For this you are going to use the tomato, the onion, the cilantro (or parsley), and the garlic.   You can cut them all as small as possible, or you can even use a processor to chop them up for you.   Sauté all these ingredients in a large enough pan for about 5 minutes, or until the onions start to brown.

Prepare the Sofrito by Processing or Chopping the Ingredients

Prepare the Sofrito by Processing or Chopping the Ingredients

Then Stir-fry Them

Then Stir-fry Them

3. Drain the tuna and add it to the sofrito in the pan along with the adobo and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to sauté, until the tuna is browned and has mixed with all the other ingredients and all the flavors are absorbed.

Add Tuna

Add Tuna

4. At this point your potato should be done.   Remove the pot from the stove and drain the potato.   Add the potato into a mixing bowl and mash it.   Set aside for it to cool.

Mash the Potato

Mash the Potato

5. Now your tuna should be ready as well.   Remove from the stove, and add the tuna mixture to your mashed potato and mix well.   Set aside for it to cool down, because you will be handling this mixture with your hands and you don’t want it to be too hot.

Mix the Tuna with the Mashed Potato

Mix the Tuna with the Mashed Potato

6. Prepare an assembly line next to your stove and add the oil to a frying pan (or deep fryer if you have one), and begin to heat up the oil.

Prep Your Workspace

Prep Your Workspace

7. You should have the bowl with the mixture, a bowl filled with the eggs (scrambled), and a plate with the bread crumbs.
8. Grab some of the tuna/potato mix and roll it in your hands to form a croquette in the shape of a “smokie”, but don’t make them too thick or too thin.

Form Croquettes

Form Croquettes

9. Place the croquette in the egg bowl and coat with the eggs, then pass it through the bread crumbs and make sure to coat evenly.

Coat with Eggs

Coat with Eggs

Coat with Bread Crumbs

Coat with Bread Crumbs

10. Fry the croquettes until the outside is browned and crispy.   Set on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Fry Croquettes

Fry Croquettes

Remove Excess Oil

Remove Excess Oil

11. Serve as an appetizer with tartar sauce, mayo and/or limejuice.   Or serve as a main dish accompanied with rice and vegetables.

Serve with Lemon and Mayonaise

Serve with Lemon and Mayonaise

*Makes about 20 to 25 croquettes.

Croquetas de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Croquettes

Croquetas de Atún | Venezuelan Tuna Croquettes

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Pabellón Criollo

14 Dec Pabellón Criollo Venezolano

The “Pabellón Criollo”, it the most traditional Venezuelan dish after the Arepas.  Pabellón is a word for “pavilion”, but it can also mean the national flag, an ensign, or even a tent.   The Pabellón Criollo, the traditional Venezuelan dish is made up of shredded (or pulled) beef, black beans, rice and fried plantains, as the most basic version of it.   Some people, depending on the part of the country, also add a plain arepa on the side, some avocadoes, some delicious grated white cheese and even a fried egg.  When fried plantains are added, it is known as the “Pabellón con Baranda”.

This dish is our national dish, but it originated in Caracas, the capital city.  People believe this dish is closely related to Venezuelan history and our miscegenation.  This is reflected on the colors of each main component in the dish, black beans, white rice and brown beef.  These three colors symbolize the union of the three races: African, European and indigenous.

We can find Pabellón Criollo in any part of the country, and we even use it to fill our empanadas and arepas.  But we only use the black beans, beef, and plantains to fill those.

Recipes for main components:

Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)
Caraotas Negras (Venezuelan Black Beans)
Arroz Blanco (Venezuelan White Rice)
Tajadas (Venezuelan Fried Plantains)

Preparation:

1. Make sure you soak the black beans overnight!
2. Prepare the shredded/pulled beef first, as this will take the longest to cook (4 hours).
3. When the beef has been cooking for about 1½ to 2 hours already, begin to cook the black beans (this will take 2 hours).
4. Proceed to remove the beef from the boiling water.  Shred/pull the beef and continue cooking as directed on the recipe (adding the sofrito and stir frying it).
5. Proceed to finish the black beans recipe as well.
6. Set the beef and beans aside, and begin cooking the rice.
7. Make the plantains while the rice is cooking.
8. Finish the rice and the plantains.
9. Serve all together.

Pabellón Criollo Venezolano

Pabellón Criollo Venezolano

Pabellón con Baranda

Pabellón con Baranda

Tip

– For a fancier presentation of this delicious dish, you can create a Pabellón Criollo tower:

1. Place an oiled pastry ring in the middle of the plate.
2. Add a layer of rice, a layer of black beans, and a layer of beef in equal parts (about one third of the rings height).
3. Top with plantain circles, alternated with cheese or avocado.
4. Decorate with herbs.

Pabellón Criollo Tower

Pabellón Criollo Tower

Pabellón Criollo Fancy

Pabellón Criollo Fancy

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

7 Dec

Venezuelan Carne Mechada, Carne Esmechada, or Carne Desmechada, is what you know as shredded or pulled beef.   Some people call it “Ropa Vieja”, which literally translates to “Old Clothes”.   Some others call it “Vaca Frita”, which literally translates to “Fried Cow”.   But we simply call it Carne Mechada, which literally translates to Shredded or Pulled Beef.   This is the main component in the most traditional Venezuelan dish, the Pabellón Criollo.   However, Carne Mechada is also used to stuff arepas, empanadas, pastelitos, and even Cachapas.

What you need:

Ingredients to Boil the Steak

Ingredients to Boil the Steak

To boil the beef
– 2 lbs. Flank Steak
– 8 Cups of Water (or enough to cover the beef)
– Salt (to taste)
– 1 Stick Green Onion
– 1 Peppermint or Spearmint Leaf
– 1 or 2 Sprigs of Parsley
– 1 or 2 Sticks of Celery
– ½ Onion
– ½ Red Bell Pepper

Ingredients for the Sofrito

Ingredients for the Sofrito

Sofrito
– 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
– 1 ½ Onions
– 1 ½ Bell Peppers
– 1 Garlic Clove
– 3 ½ “Ajíes Dulces” (Sweet Habanero or Yellow Lantern Chili Pepper)
– 2 Tomatoes
– ½ Teaspoon Pepper
– 1 or 2 Sprigs of Cilantro
– 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

Preparation:

1. Cut the Flank Steak in 2 or 4 pieces so they fit in your pot.

Flank Steak / Falda

Flank Steak / Falda

Cut Steak into 4 Parts

Cut Steak into 4 Parts

2. In a large enough pot, place the Flank Steak and cover with enough water.
3. Add the salt, green onion, peppermint, parsley, celery, onion and bell pepper.
4. Cover and cook for about 4 hours at medium heat until the steak softens.

Cook for About 4 Hours

Cook for About 4 Hours

5. Remove from heat, take the steak out of the pot, place in a baking sheet and let it cool for a little bit (You can use the remaining beef stock for other preparations).
6. Once the beef is cool enough to handle, start shredding or pulling it.   Be sure to pick out the fat and hard parts of the beef at this point.

Shred / Pull Beef

Shred / Pull Beef

7. In a large enough pot, add the oil, and sauté the rest of the onion, the bell pepper the garlic and ajíes cut in Juliennes, for about 5 minutes.

Sauté Ingredients for the Sofrito

Sauté Ingredients for the Sofrito

8. Add the beef to this sauté mixture and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes.

Add the Beef to the Sofrito

Add the Beef to the Sofrito

9. Add the tomatoes, the pepper, the cilantro, and the soy sauce.
10. Taste everything to make sure you don’t need more salt or soy sauce.
11. Cook at low heat for about 15 minutes.   You may also add a bit of the beef stock and cook at medium heat until the liquid is reduced.

Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

Carne Mechada (Venezuelan Shredded/Pulled Beef)

*Makes 4 servings.

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Tortilla Española…Venezolana! (Venezuelan Spanish Tortilla)

9 Nov

As I have mentioned before, Venezuelan food is influenced by many other cuisines around the world.   One of the most noticeable influences is Spanish cuisine (from Spain).   Most Venezuelans can track their ancestors to Spain, and have adapted some Spanish dishes passed down generation to generation, to make them their own.   Some of my relatives who have close Spanish roots have introduced me to delicious Spanish dishes like the Spanish Tortilla.   But don’t be confused by the name, this is no regular tortilla.   When I told my husband I would make him this Spanish Tortilla, he imagined a Mexican Tortilla… but it is more like an omelet, a giant omelet.   I remember eating Spanish Tortilla when invited over to my second cousin’s house for sleepovers.   My cousin’s grandma is a true Spaniard, so they knew what they were doing over there.   My other aunt’s grandmother also made me delicious Spanish Tortilla every time I came to visit.   I think she must have had a secret ingredient (LOVE) when she made her Spanish Tortilla, because it tasted amazing.   She was sweetest little lady, may she rest in piece.   My mom made this dish sometimes as well, and she accompanied it with Salchichitas, or what my husband explained to me are called smokies here in America (Recipe next week).   So here is my version of the Spanish Tortilla, which I made a bit more interesting by adding some Chorizo in it.

Ingredients for Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients for Spanish Tortilla

Ingredients:

– 2 Potatoes (medium)
– ½ Onion (medium)
– 3 to 4 Eggs
– 90 gr. Chorizo (about two links)
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
– Vegetable Oil (Enough for frying)

Preparation:

1. Peel the potatoes and then cut them in slices as thin as possible (as if you were going to make potato chips).   Cut the onions in the same manner, in strips, or simply Julienne the onion.

Cut the Potato in Thin Slices

Cut the Potato in Thin Slices

2. Place the potatoes and onions in a bowl, add the salt and mix together.

Mix Potatoes and Onions

Mix Potatoes and Onions

3. In the meantime, start heating up the oil in a large enough frying pan or wok.   Use enough oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan so that it just covers the potatoes and onions.
4. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and onions to the pan and begin to fry them.   The potatoes shouldn’t become golden brown, but it’s ok if they do just a bit.   You should move them around with a wooden spoon so that you don’t break them, but they get cooked evenly.   It takes about 10-12 minutes at medium heat for them to cook thoroughly.

Begin to Fry the Potatoes and Onions

Begin to Fry the Potatoes and Onions

5. In the meantime cut the chorizo in thin slices as well and set aside.

Cut the Chorizo

Cut the Chorizo

6. In a bowl, beat the eggs, only 3 at first.

Beat the Eggs

Beat the Eggs

7. When the potatoes and onions are done (potatoes should break in half easily when pinched with a fork), take them out and drain in a colander and let them cool down a bit.   Drain as much of the excess oil as possible.

Drain the Potatoes and Onions

Drain the Potatoes and Onions

8. Compare the size of the potatoes and onions mix to the beaten eggs, and then decide if you need to add the other egg.   There should be more potatoes and onions mix than eggs.   The size will depend on the size of your potatoes.
9. Add the potatoes and onions mix, as well as the chorizo slices and pepper to the beaten eggs.   Mix well and mash the potatoes just a bit, not too much.

Add Potatoes, Onions and Chorizo to Beaten Eggs

Add Potatoes, Onions and Chorizo to Beaten Eggs

10. Pre-heat the frying pan in which you will be cooking the tortilla.   It is better to have a smaller pan so that the tortilla will be thick, than to have a larger pan, because the tortilla will be too thin.   For this mixture I used a large frying pan to fry the potatoes and onions, and a smaller pan to cook the tortilla.   You should have a non-stick pan, but either way grease the pan with some oil or cooking spray before adding the mix to it.
11. Add the mixture to the frying pan and cook at medium/low heat.

Add Mixture to Frying Pan

Add Mixture to Frying Pan

12. When you can see that the bottom half is cooked thoroughly, by lifting one side carefully (or after about 8 minutes), you can proceed to the tricky part.   Grab a flat serving dish, larger than the circumference of the frying pan, pace it on top of the pan, and then carefully flip the tortilla on to the plate.   Clean the pan, and spray or coat with a bit more oil, then carefully slide the tortilla back into the pan to cook the other side.   Make sure to tuck in the edges so you get a clean round edge.

The Tricky Step

The Tricky Step

Flip Onto Plate and Slide Back Into Pan

Flip Onto Plate and Slide Back Into Pan

13. When the other side is ready, simply serve by flipping it into a serving dish.

Ready !!!

Ready !!!

Cut and Serve with Ketchup

Cut and Serve with Ketchup

Tips
– This is great to serve with a bit of ketchup and Salchichitas Glaseadas, or smokies.

... and Smokies

... and Smokies

*Makes about 4 servings.

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Arepitas Dulces | Arepitas de Anís (Sweet Arepas)

2 Nov

Yes! that’s right… yet another post about Arepas.   By now you know why they are the most Venezuelan dish ever!   But these are different than the Arepas I have blogged about before.   These are sweet arepas… Sweet? You say… YES! Sweet.   They are delicious.   These were sort of a treat when I was growing up.   My mom only made them once in a while.   Of course regular arepas were made… regularly.   But these were special arepas!   She would make them for dinner and serve them with “Queso Blanco”, the same one I’ve been saying is good with Arepas, and Empanadas, and anything else you can think of.   These can be great for breakfast as well, or even as a snack, or pretty much whenever you feel like having one.   Like today, I just felt I had to try to make these myself, because I haven’t had them in years.

Key Ingredient

Key Ingredient

Now, most of the recipes you see out there for “Arepas Dulces” or “Arepas de Anís” have a very peculiar ingredient that is definitely hard to find.   I am talking about “Papelón”.   Papelón is also known as “Panela”, which is an unrefined whole cane sugar that comes in a solid block.   I didn’t even know what papelón was until I was trying to make these arepas, but since I couldn’t even find it; I called my mom and asked for her recipe, which doesn’t include this mysterious ingredient.   So here it is:

Ingredients for Arepitas Dulces

Ingredients for Arepitas Dulces


What you need:

– 1 Cup Harina PAN
– 1 Cup Water
– 1 ½ Tablespoon Sugar
– ½ Teaspoon Anise Seeds
– ¼ Teaspoon Salt
– Vegetable Oil (Enough for frying)

Preparation:

1. Add the Harina PAN into a bowl, add the anise seeds to the Harina PAN a mix with your hand so that the seeds are spread evenly throughout the mix.

Add Anise Seeds to Harina Pan

Add Anise Seeds to Harina Pan

2. Add the water, salt and sugar into a separate bowl, or measuring cup, and stir it, so that the salt and sugar dissolve in the water.   The water should taste sweet, but have sort of a salty kick to it.   I tried it; I just don’t know how to explain it in correct terms… sorry!

Add Sugar and Salt to Water

Add Sugar and Salt to Water

3. Add the water slowly to the mix and start kneading with your hands.

Add Water to Harina Pan

Add Water to Harina Pan

4. Once the dough is ready, let it sit for a minute, while you prepare for the next step.   The dough will be ready when it feels sort of like play dough, but it is firm and doesn’t crack.

Let the Dough Sit

Let the Dough Sit

5. On top of a cutting board, or simply your countertop, lay a large enough sheet of Cling Wrap, and have a bowl, round cookie cutter, or Tupperware of about a 3” diameter, as well as a large flat heavy plate set aside.
6. You are going to grab a handful of the dough, make a ball, set it in the middle of your cling wrap, cover it with the other half of the cling wrap or even grab another sheet of cling wrap if you wish.   Then press on it a bit with your hand, and then grab the large flat heavy plate and press on it until you flatten it to about ¼ of an inch thick.   Then with the cookie cutter or bowl cut out a 3” diameter circle from the dough.   Uncover the cling wrap and remove the circle and set aside (on top of another sheet of cling wrap) to fry them when they are all ready.   Remove the excess dough from the cling wrap and put back in your bowl of dough.   Continue to make these disks until you have no more dough left.

Ball of Dough

Ball of Dough

Flatten with Heavy Plate

Flatten with Heavy Plate

Disk of Dough

Disk of Dough

About 1/4 of an Inch Thick

About 1/4 of an Inch Thick

Cut Out Smaller Disk

Cut Out Smaller Disk

About 3" Diameter

About 3" Diameter

Remember They Should Be Thin

Remember They Should Be Thin

Cut Out As Many As You Can

Cut Out As Many As You Can

7. Heat up the frying oil and begin to fry your arepas.   Not too many at a time, just as many as fit in your frying pot, deep fryer, or Dutch oven, as you can without them touching each other.   But there should be enough oil to cover them completely.

Fry Until Golden Brown

Fry Until Golden Brown

8. As they fry, they will sit at the bottom, but quickly rise to the top.   They will also start to bubble, as in they will look like they are puffed up.   The skin should be crispy and separate from the dough inside.   When one side has done this, and started to brown, flip them.
9. They will be ready when they are brown/golden on both sides.
10. Lay on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
11. Serve hot with Queso Blanco (and a little butter if you wish).

Serve with Queso Blanco

Serve with Queso Blanco

12. To eat them, delicately using a knife, separate the skin on the side which is most puffed-up and stuff with cheese, add butter to the inside dough if you wish.

Venezuelan Arepitas Dulces / Arepitas de Anís

Venezuelan Arepitas Dulces / Arepitas de Anís

*Makes about 8 arepas of 3” diameter and ¼ of an inch thick (uncooked).

¡Buen Provecho!

Recipe: Venezuelan Empanadas

19 Oct

Empanadas are like Venezuelan hot pockets or calzones.   We usually serve them as appetizers (small ones), or as a main dish with delicious fillings and dipping sauces.   Empanada fillings are as varied as Arepa fillings, and we use some of the same fillings that we use in Arepas as well.   The most common and easy to prepare are cheese empanadas, and they are the most popular amongst kids.   We also have exquisite ones like lobster, or Cazón (small shark), and common ones like ground beef, shredded chicken, shredded meat.   Then there are big ones like filled with Pabellón (Shredded beef, black beans and plantains), or combination ones like cheese and beef, or even ham and cheese.   One thing is for sure; you will like them no matter what is in them.   Another great thing about empanadas is that they are a great way to re-purpose your leftovers, and no one will complain about eating the same thing for lunch that they had the night before for dinner, because everyone loves empanadas.   So keep that in mind when you have leftovers, and you don’t want them to go to waste.

Ingredients for Venezuelan Empanadas

Ingredients for Venezuelan Empanadas

What You’ll Need:

– 1 Cup Harina PAN
– 1 ¼ Cup Water
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– 1/3 Teaspoon Sugar
– Vegetable Oil (enough to fry all the empanadas)
– Your Empanada Fillings (Cheese, beef, chicken, pork, etc.)
– Clear Plastic Wrap (Cling Wrap)
– Bowls

Preparation

1. Just like the Arepas: Add the Harina PAN into a mixing bowl, then add the salt and the sugar to the water and stir it.   Now little by little add the water and knead and mix the dough using your hands.   You must knead the dough until the mix is soft, firm and has a uniform consistency without any grains.

Knead the Dough

Knead the Dough

2. Once the dough is ready, make a big ball out of it, and then split into 4 equal parts.

Split Into Equal Parts

Split Into Equal Parts

3. Set up your cooking space as shown in the picture below in order to have:
a) Your Dough
b) Your Fillings (I have beef and shredded Queso Blanco cheese here)
c) A bowl with warm water with a little bit of oil in it.
d) A bowl to shape your empanadas with
e) A large enough piece of Cling Wrap

Set Up Your Cooking Space

Set Up Your Cooking Space

4. Grab one of your four sections of dough and form a ball.

Form A Ball

Form A Ball

5. Begin to flatten the ball into a disk shape using the entire length of your hands, also use the water with oil to moisten your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to them.
6. Flatten the ball until it is less than 0.25” thick.

Flatten

Flatten

Flatten More

Flatten More

Done

Done

7. Place about two to three tablespoons of your filling right below the center of the circle.

Add Filling

Add Filling

Add Any Filling

Add Any Filling

8. With both hands grab the top of the Cling Wrap and carefully fold the circle in two, so that you have a semicircle.

Fold Circle Into Semicircle

Fold Circle Into Semicircle

9. Press the Cling Wrap with your fingers over the top dough towards the bottom dough, in order to close the empanada.

Semicircle

Semicircle

Press Edged to Close Empanada

Press Edged to Close Empanada

10. Now use the extra empty bowl as shown to cut the excess dough and make the famous empanada moon-shape.

Use Empty Bowl

Use Empty Bowl

Cut Out Empanada Shape

Cut Out Empanada Shape

11. Open the Cling Wrap and remove the excess dough, which you can add to the remaining dough to make the rest of the empanadas.

Empanada Shape

Empanada Shape

Open Cling Wrap

Open Cling Wrap

Remove Excess Dough

Remove Excess Dough

Empanada Shape Done

The Perfect Empanada Shape

12. Carefully remove the empanada from the Cling Wrap, so you can make the rest of them.

Carefully Remove from Cling Wrap

Carefully Remove from Cling Wrap

Set Aside

Set Aside

13. You can begin to fry them immediately if you have someone else to help keep an eye on the ones in the pan, so you can continue making the other ones and not burn them.

Fry Empanadas

Fry Empanadas

14. Also, it is a good idea to mark them so you know which ones have which filling. In case someone doesn’t want one of the fillings. I use one dot for cheese, two dots for beef, and three dots for beef and cheese.   But you can use whatever you want.

Mark Your Empanadas

Mark Your Empanadas

15. Once you have all your empanadas ready, it’s time to fry them.

Fried Empanada and Remove Excess Oil with Paper Towels

Fried Empanada and Remove Excess Oil with Paper Towels

16. Once they are golden, take them out and lay them on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
17. Serve and enjoy.   Be careful, they are hot!

Venezuelan Empanadas

Venezuelan Empanadas

¡Buen Provecho!

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