International Cuisine Holidays: Fiestas Patrias

alfajoresWith the end of summer upon us, it’s almost time to get ready for the fall and start of the holiday season. In Chile, one of the largest holidays puts an illustrious cap on the summer. Fiestas Patrias, one of the country’s premier celebrations, takes place every September 18-19 and unofficially lasts a week. During this holiday, citizens commemorate the proclamation of the First Governing Body of 1810, marking the start of the process of independence for Chile, and the “Day of the Glories of the Army.”

Fiestas Patrias is full of activities and celebrations, but at the forefront is the presence of food. The people of Chile often gather in fondas (temporary venues for food and drink), commemorating the occasion with traditional Chilean dishes and beverages.  We have two of the most common recipes used to celebrate Fiestas Patrias, so take a look below if you’d like a taste of Chile to end the summer.

Chilean Empanadas

These empanadas are tradition in Chile and widely consumed for Fiestas Patrias. They have a tasty filling with ground beef, onions, raisins, black olives and more.

Ingredients:

  • Empanada dough
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions:

Prepare and chill the empanada dough. Following this, you will cook the onions and garlic in vegetable oil and butter until softening. Then, add ground beef, cumin, chile powder, paprika, beef bouillon, and salt and pepper. Cook the beef, while crumbling and stirring the meat until its browning. Add flour and cook for five to 10 more minutes.

Remove the mixture and keep cool, then shape the empanadas. You’ll do this by sperating the dough into golf ball size pieces and rolling them into smooth balls. After a five minute rest, roll each into a circle with about a six inch diameter. Add a tablespoon of the beef filling, raisins and chopped olives, as well as hard-boiled egg into the middle.

Brush the edges with water and fold in half to make a semi-circle. Seal the edges with your fingers, while brushing the edge lightly with water, turning the edge towards the center and sealing by pressing. Mix egg yolk with two tablespoons of milk and brush the empanadas with it. Bake until golden brown or for 25-30 minutes at 350°F. Remove, let cool and enjoy!

Alfajores

This soft, delicate cookie recipe is a Chilean specialty that makes for a smooth, tender and crumbly dessert treat. It’s also the most common dessert served during Fiestas Patrias celebrations.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon pisco or brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Dulce de Leche
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Begin by placing the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, while whisking briefly to combine. Set aside, and then place the butter and sugar into a mixer on medium speed, while scraping down the sides until it’s light and fluffy. Then, add egg yolks, pisco or brandy, as well as vanilla extract, mixing for about 30 seconds. On a lower speed, slowly add remaining flour mixture and mix for about 30 seconds until white pockets are gone.

Turn the dough out and shape into a smooth disk shape, wrapping tightly, then place into the refrigerator for one hour. Heat the oven to 350°F at this time and line up two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly-floured surface, then spreading some on top of dough.

Roll the dough to a quarter-inch thickness and stamp out 24 rounds using a two inch round cutter. Place the cookies on the baking sheets, baking each sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes until cookies have become firm and golden on the bottom. Cool using a wire rack, then flip half of the cookies upside down and spread two teaspoons of dulche de leche on them. Then place a second cookie on top and press together to make a sandwich, and top each off with a light bit of powdered sugar. Now you can enjoy this sweet Chilean dessert.

If you want to get started on some of these recipes for Fiestas Patrias for yourself, visit IFC and get the ingredients today!

Empanadas recipe from About.com

Alfajores recipe from Chow.com

Photo by Gabriel GM

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