empanadas de verde ecuatorianas

Empanadas de Verde (em-pah-NAH-dahs deh VEHR-deh) are a staple food in the Ecuadorean diet.  Made from green plaintains, empanadas de verde are usually eaten for breakfast, accompanied with a cafecito, or black coffee.  These green plaintain patties are filled with cheese, but can also be filled with a ground beef and raisin mixture, which we will explore on later posts.  Empanandas de Verde can also be served as a side dish, or even an appetizer, or a little snack.

Growing up, we used to eat them on a consistent basis.  Plantains are fairly inexpensive and are a good source of vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as potassium.  Our empanadas de verde are deep-fried in manteca (mahn-TEH-cah), a.k.a, lard – so throw all that goodness out the window!  Since I don’t care much for deep frying, I panfry them for a few minutes on each side until they achieve a golden brown color and then put them in the oven for 10 minutes so the cheese melts.  Enjoy!

Empanadas de Verde con Queso

Yields 10-12 patties, depending how big you make them

6 green plantains
Water to cook the plantains
4 tbsp unsalted butter
salt to taste
Queso blanco for filling
Oil to panfry

Peel the plaintains and cut them in thirds.  In a large stock pot, cook the plantains with enough water to cover them.  Bring to a boil and cook for about 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted goes in with ease.

Once cooked, remove the plaintains from the water into a large bowl.  Save the water.  With a potato masher begin mashing the plaintains.  While the plantains are still hot, add the 4 tablespoons of butter.

Add 1/2 cup of the water where you boiled the plaintains into the bowl and continue to mash the plaintains.  I ended up adding a total of 1 1/2 cups of this water until I achieved a smooth consistency.  You will have chunky bits of plantain left, which gives the empanadas good texture.
Start forming the patties in your hands; make them about the size of your hand.  Lay them on a platter and make a dent in the middle of the patty.  This is where the chunks of cheese go.
Close the patties ensuring the cheese stays inside.
Preheat your oven to 350F.  In a large frying pan, heat up some oil.  Fry the patties until they turn golden on both sides (about 3 minutes on each side).  **NOTE: don’t overfill the pan like I did; it made it difficult to flip them over!
Once golden, put the empanadas in the oven for about 10 minutes.  The outer part of the empanadas will have hardened a little.  Serve warm with a cup of black coffee.