Recipe: Plantain empanadas with crema
SOMETHING DIFFERENT: Plaintains form the "dough" for these empanadas. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
Total time: 2 hours, plus cooling time
Servings: Makes 30 empanadas
Note: Adapted from a Border Grill recipe. The plantains should be mostly brown with only a little yellow; plantains with any green on them will not be sweet.
6 very ripe plantains, unpeeled
2 small poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and seeded
2 cups good-quality, canned refried black beans
4 green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated añejo, Romano or feta cheese
1/2 cup grated Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe bananas, peeled
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
7 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed, or 3 canned chipotle chiles, stemmed and rinsed
16 Roma tomatoes, cored
20 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup peanut oil
1 cup crema, crème fraîche or sour cream
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a lengthwise slit into each plantain and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the flesh is thoroughly soft and oozing through the slit, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2. While the plantains are roasting, make the stuffing: Finely dice the poblano chiles. In a medium bowl, combine the diced chiles, beans, green onions, cheeses and one-half teaspoon each of salt and pepper. The stuffing can be made up to a day in advance and reserved in the refrigerator.
3. Make the dough: Peel, trim and discard any tough ends from the plantains. In a food processor or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the plantains and bananas with 2 teaspoons salt and purée. Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will become too starchy. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
4. Make the chipotle salsa: Combine the onions, chipotle chiles, tomatoes, garlic and 6 cups water in a medium saucepan. Stir in 4 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and the sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by about one-third and the tomato skins are falling off. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth, then cover and refrigerate. This makes more salsa than is needed for this recipe. The remainder can be reserved for another use.
5. To assemble the empanadas, roll 2 tablespoons of the dough lightly between your palms to form a ball. Line the bottom of a tortilla press with a small plastic bag or plastic wrap and place the ball of dough in the center. Place another small plastic bag, or piece of plastic wrap, over the dough and press to form a 3 1/2 -inch circle. Place 1 teaspoon of bean stuffing on half of the circle and fold over to enclose, pressing the edges to seal. Repeat until you have used up the dough and stuffing; you should have about 30 empanadas. Place the stuffed empanadas on a tray and chill at least 30 minutes, up to a day.
6. Heat the peanut oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat, until a thermometer inserted reads 350 degrees. Fry four to six empanadas at a time, shaking the pan constantly, about 1 minute until dark brown. Flip and cook the reverse side of each. Remove the empanadas and drain on paper towels.
7. Combine 1 cup of the chipotle salsa with the crema in a small bowl. Serve with the warm empanadas.
Each empanada: 133 calories; 3 grams protein; 18 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 7 mg. cholesterol; 431 mg. sodium.
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