The Empanada Pie Disaster of 2013

IMG_6535 That, ladies and gentlemen, is a pile of thinly sliced pork.  I needed to turn it into dinner.  One of the roomies is quite fond of pork.  The other has been burned by dry, flavorless pork one too many times.  It needed to be good.  Also, it needed to use vegetables.  So I turned to Leith’s Latin American Cookbook (which I picked up at a used bookstore in DC last time I was there due to poor impulse control) and decided to do a thing.

There’s a recipe in there for shredded pork which looked really good.  It even called for three pork tenderloins, which is what I had when I started.  Also, it suggested at the end that it could be used as empanada filling.  So I looked up the only recipe in the book under empanada.  It was for an empanada pie with a vegetable filling.  Recipe mashup commence!IMG_6538

I started by utterly ignoring the instructions for the pork preparation.  The recipe called for searing the tenderloins, then cooking them, and then shredding them. But I had few out of the house commitments for the day and mostly planned to grind away at my intimidating to do list, so there was lots of time.  I sliced the pork.  Then I marinated it.  I took my cues for the marinate prep from the recipe, though.  There was oregano and garlic, as suggested.  A bit of canola oil.  A bit of honey (because.), some salt, and a healthy dose of curried meat seasoning mix since it had cumin in it, the recipe called for cumin, and I didn’t feel like grinding our cumin seeds into straight cumin.  Laziness, it leads to flavor!IMG_6541

That’s a skillet full of bacon fat left over from brunch that morning.  Woe is me, for lo, bacon fat is such a pain to clean out of a skillet.  It is, however, mega tasty for cooking pork in.  So it was that many hours after sticking the pork in a bag full of tasty marinade, the pork got thrown into a skillet full of a sibling’s stomach fat.IMG_6544

Yum, incestuous cooking.IMG_6551

For the vegetable part of the filling I did some mucking around with the recipe, too.  This picture is here mostly because I’m so proud of the knife technique demonstrated.  Look at those thin, even slices of onion.  I remember the first time I chopped an onion.  It did not look this good.  Learning curve, you are defeated!IMG_6553

Mmm, onion cooked in leftover pork goop.  IMG_6560

The recipe called for canned tomato.  We had fresh slicing tomatoes from the CSA.  I considered grabbing a can anyway.  Then I stopped being a crazy person.  The recipe did not call for any peppers.  But the filling paired with the empanada pie recipe did.  And we had a jalapeño from the CSA. That got tossed in, too.IMG_6562

The recycling of dishes used in making this is really awesome.  Especially since I get to blame it all on good culinary technique (the things are cooking in the juices of the other things!) rather than outright laziness and the fact that I ran the dishwasher three times that day as it was.
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They cooked down quite nicely.  I was a little concerned since it looked like the filling in the empanada pie recipe wasn’t going to be very liquidy – there was a note about it looking dry and that being ok – and I didn’t want a soggy empanada.  But it wasn’t too bad, and I was pretty sure I’d ruin the filling by cooking it until there wasn’t any liquid left.IMG_6566

The recipe called for a tart pan, which I suppose means this is more properly an empanada tart.  I don’t blame them for calling it a pie instead, though.  Who would take an empanada tart seriously?IMG_6567

I did not manage to fit all of the pork into the pan.  I didn’t try.  We’ll make rice and beans later this week and recycle the leftovers into a whole new meal. You’ll note a theme for this week.  It is “lazy.” Intimidating to do lists will cause that.IMG_6569

Then I carefully spooned the vegetable bits onto the pie, leaving as much liquid in the skillet as I could.  I didn’t use all of that up, either.  See above for why this is totally okay.

I made the dough for the empanada crust.  Wound up being pretty much just like any other pie crust dough, except a bit grainier from the corn meal.  I continue to like putting dough into tart shells more than pie plates.IMG_6573

Flubbed the top crust just a mite bit, but that was okay.  I wasn’t trying to impress anybody with how pretty dinner was.

You’ll note the relative smooth sailing and lack of disaster or hilarity so far. Don’t worry, I didn’t lead you astray.

Remember that soggy pie and liquid filling concern I had?  Well, ten minutes in to baking the pie what do I hear but the sizzle of juice dripping down from the shell onto the floor of my oven.  I wouldn’t care, except for the part where that leads to oven use causing smoke and filling the house with the smell of burning things.  Okay, I care.  So I did the responsible thing.  The grown up thing.  I decided to put a pan under the pie.

What do we remember from our previous discussion of tart shells?  If you said, “They come in two peices, with an outer ring that slides up from the bottom,” you might be able to suspect what happened next.

I didn’t move the pie shell very well, because the pan was trying to come apart.  And then it was failing to slide over the lip of the pan the way it ought to.  And then…

And then it was on the floor of the oven, half slid under the element, and burning into place there. Uhm.

There was cussing.  A whole lot of cussing.

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Remember how I didn’t mind how ugly the empanada was, so long as it tasted good?  I lied.  There is such a thing as too ugly.  You’re looking at it, broken, deformed mass that it is.  I am angry with this pie. All that work, all that support, I gave it the best hours of my day, and what did it go and do to itself? Mutilation, that’s what. How is a cook supposed to feel when their dishes go and self-mutilate like this?IMG_6579It did taste good. Though I think half the praise from the roommates was that despite the interlude of extensive cussing, dinner wasn’t delayed as they were hungry.

I will tackle you again, empanada pie. And you will come out with pleasing superficial aesthetics. Grr.

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