Jorge: They say that Cubans and green vegetables don’t mix!
Glenn: Very few classic Cuban recipes include green vegetables.
Raúl: But that doesn’t mean that we never ate green vegetables in Cuba. We frequently ate string beans, okra, and green peas at our house.
Jorge: However, I don’t remember eating very much spinach in Cuba.
Glenn: This dish is a favorite in Spain, where they evidently eat more spinach than Popeye.
Raúl: There are always several people in any crowd who will lose their composure at the simple mention of the word “spinach.”
Glenn: For best results, just tell your guests that these are “Spanish” empanadas. The reaction usually goes like this: “These empanadas are great! What? That’s spinach? But I hate spinach!”
INGREDIENTS:3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups flour
4 tablespoons lard (or substitute vegetable shortening)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cold water (more or less)
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. When it is moderately hot, quickly stir in the garlic and tomatoes, stirring constantly, just for a couple minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let cool. Mix in the cooked spinach.
Finally, gently fold in the chopped hard-boiled eggs. Add the lemon juice. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste.
FOR THE DOUGH
Sift the flour with salt and baking powder. Place half the flour mixture in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Place the butter, lard, eggs, and water in the well. Mix at low speed to form a paste.
Continue to mix in the flour mixture until all is added. You may need to add waterslowly and in small quantitiesuntil the dough reaches the right consistency. The dough should be soft and pliable, like pie dough.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
ROLL THEM OUT AND FILL
Lightly flour a work surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces (keep the pieces you aren’t using in the refrigerator until you need them); use a floured rolling pin to roll out the dough about 1⁄8 inch thick.
Use a large round cookie cutter or bowl (about 4 inches in diameter) to cut perfect circles from the dough. Use a slotted spoon (to allow any excess liquid to drain from the filling) and put some filling in the center of the circle and fold over to make a half circle. Don’t over-fill.
Seal the edges of the dough with your fingers or a fork to make a scalloped edge.
Get a large frying pan and add enough vegetable oil to cover the empanadas completely. Heat the oil to the frying stage -- about 350 degrees F.
Fry the empanadas in the oil, turning occasionally until brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.
You may also bake these in the oven on a lightly greased baking sheet at 350 degrees F for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
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