Celebrating Mother's Day with Colombian Empanadas

May 13, 2018

This blogpost was sponsored by Western Union.

Mother’s day in my home has always been a combination of celebrating the amazing women that made my life possible and celebrating our rich culture. My mother (or Fat Mamá Hedonist as I like to refer to her) is originally from Colombia and my grandmother still lives in Medellin, Colombia. Our family has been using Western Union to send money to my grandmother and aunts for nearly twenty years, so I’m really excited to team up with them on this campaign. Western Union is all about celebrating the little things in life like the good food we eat, the places we visit or the reasons we send money across the world, because it’s these little things that make us who we are.

Colombian Empanadas
Colombian food is a very important part of my family’s Mother’s Day traditions and my mom’s empanadas are a staple at our table. One of the simplest and most delicious ways that we can express and appreciate cultural diversity is by sharing a meal. Food is everyone’s common ground; a delicious meal made with love puts a smile on everyone’s face. The comfort that comes from a home cooked meal made by your mamá or abuelita, is a feeling that almost every person can identify with.

Mise En Place 
Growing up I always watched my mom call my grandmother long distance, ask for my abuela’s recipes and write every ingredient down in an old notebook. She would then proceed to recreate her childhood recipes with me. My mom no longer needs to revert back to that old, tattered notebook because those recipes have become a part of who she is. So now that I am a mom, I have asked my mom to begin teaching me my grandmother’s recipes so I can pass them down to my son. Last mother’s day she gave me her old recipe notebook, it was my mom’s way of passing down the baton. Now, I’m sharing my mother’s empanada recipe with you all.
Ready to make the sofrito
Makes about 20 empanadas
  • 1 Lb. Bone-in pork loin rib chops 
  • 4 Cups of water
  • 1 ½ Tsp cumin - separated
  • 1 Tbsp of salt - separated
  • 1 Bunch of green onions, minced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 Tbsp of your favorite hot sauce (feel free to use less, if you don't like spicy food)
  • 4 Large red potatoes
  • 4 cups of yellow pre-cooked cornmeal (Masarepa) 
  • 3 Tbsp of bacon fat (If you don’t have a jar bacon fat laying around, you can use lard)
  • 2 cups of vegetable oil for frying

Pouring the pork broth into the Masa
Masa ready to rest and be formed
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water and boil until tender. Once cooked, remove potatoes and allow them to cool. Once cooled, you’ll be able to easily peel off the potato skins and then chop the potatoes. In another pot place the pork chops, 4 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoons of cumin and boil until pork is fully cooked. Once cooked, remove the pork, chop the meat and discard any bones. Strain and reserve 3 ½ cups of pork broth.

Empanada Filling
In a large bowl prepare your masa, combine your cornmeal and reserved pork broth. Work the masa until it is well incorporated then cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

While your masa is resting, in a large saucepan saute the tomatoes and green onions in the bacon fat over medium heat. This is your sofrito. Stir occasionally and add ½ tbs of salt, hot sauce and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Add the pork to your tomatoes and green onions. Once the pork has been well combined with the sofrito, gently fold in your cooked potatoes. You want your potatoes to still maintain their shape and texture, so don’t over mix your filling once you’ve added the potatoes.

Rolling out the masa and making empanadas
Split up the masa into about ¼ cup portions and form into a ball by rolling between the palms of your hands.Place the balls of dough between two pieces of plastic (I used a ziplock bag)  and roll each out very thinly to form a circle-ish. Remove the top plastic and place filling in the center of each. I use a cookie scoop for the filling. Then using the plastic underneath, fold the dough over to enclose the filling, forming a half circle. Tightly seal the edges by pressing down with your fingers.
Fill a large pot with vegetable oil and heat over medium high heat. Carefully place 3  empanadas at a time in the heated oil and fry for about 2 minutes until golden on all sides. Using a slotted spoon transfer the empanadas to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve with pico de gallo, hot sauce and sliced limes on the side.

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