“I teach my kids to cook to make sure they don’t forget where they come from.”

Joseph Sefair believes in “family first”—whether that’s his parents in Colombia, his children at home, or his team at work. Watch him make empanadas—prepared the Colombian way.

Colombian empanadas
4-6 servings

For the empanada dough:
24 oz yellow corn meal
1 packet sazón with coriander and annatto
1 ½ tsp salt
4 c warm water

For the filling:
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ white onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb ground meat (beef or turkey)
Cumin, salt, and pepper to taste
*Vegetarian option: Omit the meat or use a substitute. Also, substitute vegetable bouillon for the chicken bouillon.

For the aji (hot sauce):
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped with seeds
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 or 5 limes, juiced
Salt to taste

1. Put the corn meal into a large bowl, add the salt and sazón with coriander and annatto, and mix well. Add the water, and mix to form a dough (it will be a bit wet). Let the dough stand while you prepare the filling.
2. Cook the potatoes with water and bouillon until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, mash lightly, and set aside.
3. In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 Tbsp oil, and then add the onion, tomato, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down, about 15 minutes. Add the meat, and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. Brown and break up the meat until it is fairly dry.
4. Heat at least 2 inches of oil to medium-high heat.
5. To assemble the empanadas, break off a section of dough (golf-ball sized or 1.5 ounces), and roll it into a ball with your hands. Place it between two layers of plastic wrap, and flatten it with the heel of your palm into a 6-inch disk. Peel away the plastic from the top only, and hold the bottom plastic and the disk in your palm. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center, fold the disk, and then pinch the ends closed. Slightly flatten to distribute the filling. Do the same with the remaining dough and filling.
6. With a slotted spoon, gently lower the empanada into the hot oil, and cook for 2 minutes, turning about halfway through. Drain on paper towels. Cook these in batches.
7. Serve warm or at room temperature with aji or hot sauce and/or lime wedges.
8. To make the aji, put the chopped tomatoes, green onions, jalapeño, and cilantro into a large bowl. Squeeze the limes into the bowl, and mix all ingredients well. Add salt to taste.

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