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32: Biffs Beef Empanadas

I don’t know about you, but I simply love cooking. There’s something about learning new dishes that allows me to feel a real connection with history and the people that took part in making it. When we find ourselves cooking a recipe from another culture it shines a light on the artistry of that culture and it’s people. When I first started to learn how to make empanadas I’ll admit I was a wee bit intimidated because I had had so many amazing ones that it seemed the perfect execution almost HAD to include a little bit of magic.

That was fun! Okay now I’m going to need you to tell this elderly Alzheimer’s patient that his wife is dead. Nevermind where he came from, ooh he’s standing in chicken shit, oh well it’s not like he’ll remember. Edgar, EDGAR! Yes, yes, this nice person has something important to tell you…well go on….common Edgar is waiting. Edgar pay attention, alright go ahead…yes,yes…very good that wasn’t so hard was it? Oh look he’s crying, no there must be a stronger word for what he’s doing…ah yes sobbing! Man he’s really leaning into those cries of pain isn’t he? Like he’s trying to yell away the reality between wracking bursts of anguish. Wait, wait, ah yes look he’s slowing down. Its like watching a shopping cart come to a stop after rolling down a hill, except the shopping cart is full of the sudden and unexpected realization that the most important thing in your life is missing. Also that not only was that thing missing but the revelation that your inability to recognize the absence is testament to the enormity of the affect the illness that you’ve been steadily trying to minimize has on you. Edgar is lost and he knows he’s lost because you just told him he’s alone. Wait…Yes! See that? The pain is gone, replaced by an empty expression. Alright now let’s tell him again!

No? Fine let’s go, I’m bored anyway. COME ON!! It smells like backwards writing and dead mexican children in here. Don’t worry about Edgar he’ll be fine. Ah fresh air, that’s better! Oh and look a porta potty with an eerie glowing light peaking out from the cracked open door! That’s our ticket to the next scene,let’s go. What? Oh, you thought that thing with Edgar was another one of those extreme measures I keep forcing on you in order to trigger transitions between scenes? Yeah, no, I just pulled him from a nursing home in North Carolina. Enough with the banter let’s get in this smelly shitty shit house and keep this story stepping. What? What is it now? Fine I’ll answer your stupid question, just get in the portable lavatory. Ok? Yes, yes good, shut the door behind you. Smells like chemicals and marinating bowel fluid right? Now, you said you had another question? Edgar again? What about him?

Yes he’s not of this time line. Yes that means he’s invisible like us. Let me just reach past you here and get a pump of the liquid soap. So yeah he’s essentially stuck in purgatory unable to interact with those around him, and I’d imagine given his state unable to reliably fend for himself. Where ya going? Ah Ah smarty pants, you thought you could just rush out of here and save the old coot? Well obviously we’re not in the front yard of the rooster trailer anymore, we’re standing on the immaculately manicured lawn of the local FBI field office. That’s cute though, your knee jerk reaction to save someone stuck in their own mental quagmire. It was the soap dispenser by the way, that was the trigger that transported us here.

This is pretty nice for a field office, you’d expect it to be in a strip mall or something. This looks like a business district, rows and rows of four story buildings with mirrored windows. Hey be careful somethings popping out of the ground next to your foot! Come back in the plastic outhouse where its safe. Just, no listen just come over here. Don’t be like that! Alright look I’m outside now, just take my hand and we’ll …. ah damnit it disappeared! What is that ground thing anyway? Hmm just a sprinkler head for lawn irrigation. Yup, just a humdrum sprinkler head pulling itself free of the muddy earth shackles with it’s three jointed plastic arms, uh huh a plain jane run of the mill irrigation nozzle with rows of serrated teeth mumbling to itself while feet push themselves out of it’s base. Just a pedestrian plastic port of non potable water walking towards me on shaky newborn legs, now faster, now running



  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.
  • Unroll pie crusts on a clean, flat surface. Use a 3-inch round pastry cutter to cut circles from the dough. (If desired, combine scraps, roll out, and cut again.)
  • In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef.
  • Stir in onions, cumin, chili powder, salt, green chiles, and pimento peppers. Saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in tomato paste, followed by the cheese. Remove from heat.
  • Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the beef mixture into the center of each pie crust circle.
  • Fold dough over and use a fork to seal the dough all along the curved edge.
  • Arrange in a single layer, not touching, on prepared baking sheet. Brush empanadas with egg wash.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

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