‘Tis the season for comfort food and Arizona’s newly dubbed “Food Pioneer 2019”, Chef Lisa Dahl, shares her best-kept secrets for baking delicate empanadas inspired by her travels around Argentina.
A Latin-American delicacy especially enjoyed around the holidays, empanadas are a crisp pastry that can be filled with an infinite combination of flavors from savory to sweet. Often found deep fried and masked in oil in the U.S., an authentic empanada is typically baked to achieve a golden-brown color and flakey consistency, which is the method embraced by Executive Chef and Restauranteur Lisa Dahl in Sedona, Ariz.
After falling in love with the art of making handmade empanadas during her travels around Argentina, Dahl learned the traditional way of folding and filling the moon-shaped pockets from a cooking school in Tigre, led by the protégé of renowned chef Frances Mallmann. Through this school, Dahl was able to master the foundation of the recipe and also learn to prepare traditional accompaniments like chimichurri and criolla sauces. Today, Dahl’s empanadas are some of her all-time best selling items at her award-winning Mariposa Latin Inspired Grilled, as she experiments with fanciful and savory combinations of her own.
“These little crusts are an ideal canvas for just about anything you can imagine to stuff inside. So, master the dough and the fold, then let your imagination run wild,” said Chef Dahl. “I know that you will fall in love with these mouthwatering pockets of pleasure just as I did, and it’s my fond hope that the filling combinations that follow are just the door that opens to your own creativity as you recapture the nearly lost art of the handmade empanada.”
On the heels of winning the prestigious top honor of “2019 Food Pioneer” by the Arizona Restaurant Association’s Foodist Awards, Dahl is sharing her favorite empanada recipes for at-home chefs:
Filet of Beef, Caramelized Onion and Roasted Potato Empanada Filling
Chef Dahl’s Note: “This is a traditional beef empanada filling, but I deviate from tradition a bit by adding castelveltrano olives, rather than hard-boiled eggs. The olives lend a lovely texture, and their buttery flavor mingles beautifully with the meat and potatoes. I also elevate the dish with tips of filet, making every bite exquisitely tender. Roasting the potatoes lends even more flavor, but you can also sauté them to save time. And of course, you can use currents in lieu of Solaris raisins. I prefer the currants’ subtle sweetness.”
Portobello, Poblano and Three Cheese Empanada Filling
Chef Dahl’s Note: “My all-time favorite! If I didn’t have to fret about squeezing into my size 6 (but who’s counting?) jeans, I would eat these every day. The combination of roasted mushrooms and poblano with cheese gives these empanadas an exotic element in every bite. They’re almost worth buying a new wardrobe for.”
Corn, Pepper and Pepper Jack Cheese Empanada Filling
Chef Dahl’s Note: “Every kid and kid-at-heart will fall in love with these thanks to the combination of fresh corn, sweet peppers and melty cheese within a delicate pastry crust. When I’m is cooking empanadas for a group that includes younger people, I always make extras with this filling combo.”
For the holiday season, Chef Dahl uses the leftover turkey breast meat and creates what she calls the Turkey Pot Pie, using the remnants of the herb stuffing laced with apples, leeks and white cheddar cheese. She serves them with pineapple and chile del arbol, which is delicious enough to be dessert.
Dahl’s empanadas are on the tapas menu at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill in Sedona. For more information about Chef Lisa Dahl, visit DahlRestaurantGroup.com.