Empanadas De Yuca
1/2 cup Achiote seeds (for color)
1 cup oil
1 package banana leaves (warmed or at room temperature)
4lbs fresh yuca, grated**
1 cup milk
2 packets sazon
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon salt or Homemade Adobo
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup Basic Sofrito
1 cup tomato sauce
1 can sliced pimentos, drained
1 can garbanzos, drained
1/2 cup capers and olives
1 teaspoon adobo
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper (to adjust to taste)
Combine all masa ingredients in very large bowl or pot and mix thoroughly. Color should be consistent and a light orangy yellow. If making the day before, cover and place in refrigerator.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in pan.
Add sofrito, tomato sauce, oregano, cumin, cilantro, olives and capers. Sautee a minut or two until fragrant.
Add chopped chicken or pork and simmer until well done, about 15 minutes. Sometimes I add a cooking spoon of the SAUCE ONLY (make sure to not include any pieces of the filling) to the masa for flavor.
Simmer 1 cup of oil with 1/2 cup of aciote sees in small saucepan for 3 minutes. When ready, oil should be red in color. Strain oil into small bowl. Discard seeds.
Break off about 10 pieces of foil the length of your arm. Cut banana leaves in 10 pieces each just about two inches shorter than the length of your arm. Place one piece of banana leaf on top of each piece of foil in a neat stack in front of you so that they alternate.
Behind that, should be the bowl of achiote, the bowl of masa at room temperature, the bowl of garbanzos, the bowl of pimentos, and the pan of meat placed on the table.
BEGIN ASSEMBLY PROCESS:
Spread 2 tablespoons of achiote oil (or cooking spray for the health conscious) in center of banana leaf.
Spread 1 cooking spoon of yuca mixture on leaf, flattening out.
Spread 1 cooking spoon of meat without sauce (as dry as possible) over yuca mixture.
Top with a few pimentos and garbanzos.
Top with 1/4 or 1/2 cooking spoon of masa on top of pimento and garbanzos.
Fold over the banana leaf from top to bottom but do not seal ends.
Fold foil (very very lightly flattening out contents as you go along) the same way but lightly seal the ends of the foil if you will be freezing this later use. If baking then do not seal the ends. Select the ones you are using and freeze the rest. They keep for ages.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line oven with foil (in case of any drips from open ends of empanadas). Bake empanadas for a total of 45 minutes. Make sure to turn over half way through the baking process. If they are frozen, then they must be baked for 75 minutes.
This recipe can be made in one day but if you want to do this the lazy way do the following:
DAY ONE: Prepare Masa and prepare meat filling.
DAY TWO: Assemble
**Pre-grated yuca can be found in the frozen vegetable aisle of your supermarket. They come in 4lb bags. This DRAMATICALLY cuts down on preparation time and grated fingertips. If you insist on using fresh Yuca, be my guest. It must be peeled and grated on the finest holes of a cheese grater by hand or grated with the finest grating plate of a food processor.
***You might want to use your kitchen table if your counter isn’t big enough to spread out. Placing everything in an assembly line will make the process quicker and easier.