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Buffalo-Chanterelle Empanadas with Mole

A recurring theme is emerging: too many chanterelles, plus an impending frost that requires me to pull my millions of tomatoes while still green, equals chanterelles and green tomatoes going into damn near every dish these days. They taste good together, though, so I guess I win. And it forces creativity, since I can never let a single thing go to waste (and no one wants to take any green tomatoes off my hands).

I sometimes feel like the Little Red Hen (or some other storybook martyr), trying desperately to convince my neighbors and coworkers to take some (insert surplus item here). They always politely refuse, saying they don’t know how they’d use (surplus item). When I tell them they could very easily make (A), (B), or (C) with it, all very delicious! they admit that they in fact don’t actually care much for (surplus item). However! If I bring over some little yummeh (such as (A)) made with (surplus item) they greedily help themselves and have to confess that they didn’t actually know that (surplus item) could be so good, because they’d only had it improperly prepared as (D) or (E) by their unskilled mothers/wives or had never even heard of it before!!

People can be so lazy and uninspired when faced with daunting surplus items, but I refuse to be one of them! So here is yet another use for chanterelles and green tomatoes.

(I listed out the recipes in order of when they should be made. Since the dough needs to sit in the fridge for an hour, it buys you time to get everything else ready.)

Empanada Dough
Yes, I culled the dough recipe from Joy of Cooking, since I don’t have an abuelita to show me these things. Sigh.

3 c all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat, and it was fine)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c lard or vegetable shortening (I used shortening, which worked great)
11 to 13 tbsp ice water

This is way easier if you use a food processor! In fact, I’m not even gonna bother with the other directions.

Combine dry ingredients in food processor and pulse a few times to mix. Add butter and lard or shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer mixture to large bowl and sprinkle water over the top.

Mix gently with a fork until dough is damp enough to gather into a ball. Shape into a flat disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Fridge for an hour.

Mole de Gringa
My mole is slightly non-traditional (no tortillas in it), but it has a smooth texture and tastes pretty convincing.

2 c chicken stock
5 large dried chiles (I use a combo of pasilla, California pod and ancho), seeded and stemmed
5 sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
1/4 c pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 tsp. cumin seed, lightly toasted
1″ piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder*
salt to taste
sugar to taste (if the mole is a tad bitter, a wee spoonful helps)

*In a pinch I once used a coupla squares of Dagoba Xocolatl chocolate bar, which is 75% cacao and has lovely bits of cacao nib and chile flake. It was really good!

In a small pot, bring chicken stock to the boil. Add chiles, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic and bay leaf, and turn off heat. Lid the pot and leave to sit 10 or 15 minutes until the chiles and tomatoes are softened. Meanwhile, toast cinnamon and cumin in small pan over medium heat until fragrant, and grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Remove bay leaf from stock-chile pot, and puree until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve, scraping the flesh through with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Return mix to blender and add pepitas. Blend until smooth again. Return mix to pot over low heat. Add cinnamon, cumin, cocoa, salt and sugar (if needed) and simmer for about 5 minutes or so to let the flavors meld.

I’ve never had any leftover, but I’d suppose it keeps for about a week in the fridge or a few months in the freezer. This mole is the base for my chicken enchilada soup. It is also nearly fat free (except for the pepitas)! So you might wanna add a scant teaspoon or two of a nutty oil to round out the flavor if using it directly as sauce.

Empanada Filling
I omit the raisins and olives, ‘cuz there’s just enough going on in here already.

1/2 lb. ground buffalo
2 roasted poblano chiles, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 c diced potato (I used 3 fingerlings)
1 c diced onion
1 c diced green tomato
2 c chopped or shredded chanterelles
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
S&P
1/4 c mole
1/4 c cotija (queso seco) or I guess you could use ricotta salata or some other dry white cheese
1/2 c chopped cilantro

Brown buffalo in a medium skillet (with a little olive oil) over medium-high heat. Transfer to a bowl when browned. In the same pan, saute onions, potatoes, poblanos and tomatoes for about 10 minutes. Pan will be a bit sticky, but just add the chanterelles and the juices they release will deglaze the pan nicely. Season with the cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, oregano and S&P. Simmer down for a few, stirring now and again.

Add the cooked buffalo back to the pan, and the mole. After a minute add the queso and the cilantro, stir, and turn off the heat.

By now, hopefully, it’s been an hour and that dough is ready. (It shouldn’tve really taken that long to make the mole and filling, though, so you might just need to have a little glass of wine and clean up your kitchen to kill the last 15 or 20 minutes.)

Assembly:

Heat oven to 400F.

Divide dough into quarters. Roll out each dough chunk 1/8″ thick and cut out 6″ rounds. I just cut around a saucer to do this.* You‘ll have to re-roll scraps to get approximately 10-12 rounds.

Brush the edges with a little eggwash (1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk), and add about 1/4 c filling to one side of the round, then fold closed and use a fork around the edges to gently seal (and give a pretty effect). Poke a few fork holes in the top to vent, and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat for the rest, spacing them 2″. Brush the tops with remaining eggwash.

Bake until browned, like 15 minutes. It took longer to write this post than to make the damn things. Serve with mole, maybe some cilantro and sour cream if you like.


*Later, Scott said maybe little 2 bite-sized ones would be pretty great like as appies, in which case you could use a 4″ cookie cutter and just like 2 tbsp or so of filling in each.

I totally forgot to make my fried plantains to go with these beauties, so it’s a good thing I still have some leftover filling. Tacos and fried plantains for dinner tonight!