Spring into Malbec! World Malbec Day was celebrated this past Sunday, and to assist in my celebration of the day, and Malbec in general, the kind people at Frederick Wildman & Sons sent me a few bottles of Malbec to try. Since I was working with a wine from Argentina, I also decided to cook up a little Argentine-inspired dinner, empanadas, but with a vegetarian, Italian twist.
Caprese empanadas! I started out by making a beautiful, summer filling of shredded mozzarella, a chiffonade of basil, and chopped tomatoes. As you see above, I bought some gorgeous tomatoes, or so I thought. On the inside, they were still wintry, pale, mealy, bleh. Luckily I had a can of chopped tomatoes that I was able to quickly drain for the filling. It helps to be prepared!
I knew making the empanada filling would be the easy part, but the dough intimidated me a little, as dough tends to do. This dough, however, could not have been easier to work with. I followed a recipe for Chilean Empanadas for the dough, but I substituted butter for shortening. Many empanada recipes use shortening or even lard, but I really preferred to use butter. After some research, I found that it is a 1:1 ratio for butter to shortening, and I got to chopping my Kerrygold into little cubes.
For whatever reason, blending the butter into the dry ingredients this time was a cinch! Perhaps practice makes perfect? Once I added the milk and let the dough rest for 20 minutes, it was time to roll it out.
I usually have a sticky mess of dough or something so dry and cracking that I can not roll it out. This dough was so fun to work with!
I rolled it out on our kitchen table and started cutting circles with a large tupperware container to make the empanadas.
Once the dough circles were cut, I added a scoop of the empanada filling, then sealed each empanada with a fork and brushed with egg. My empanadas cooked at 375 for 35 minutes.
Sadly, I overstuffed and undersealed the empanadas, so they all exploded a little in the oven. But they dough became light, flaky, fluffy, and golden brown, just as I had hoped. Though not much to look at, the empanadas were quite delicious with a cheesy, garlicky center, dotted with fragrant bits of basil
I served the empanadas with a side of orange-infused plantains, and there was, of course Malbec. We didn’t drink all of these bottles in one night; as you can see from the photos, they are all at different times. I received the Malbec about a month ago, and we have been sampling ever since.
Here we have a 2008 Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec, a Michael Torino Estate Don David Reserve Malbec, and a 2009 Michael Torino Estate Cuma Malbec, made with organic grapes. Each of these Malbecs exhibited that gorgeous, dark red-purple color that Malbec is known for, but I loved how different each of these wines were.
The Trapiche offered aromas and flavors of cherry vanilla and a little bit of oak and cedar. The Don David, which we sipped with the empanadas, was smokier and spicier, still with nice fruit flavors, but with a long, lingering finish.
The Cuma was, to me, the fruitiest, with flavors of baked fruit, like dark cherry pie. I really enjoyed all of the Malbecs we tasted (and there are more!), and it was interesting to learn a little more about Malbec, especially how it goes well with Easter and spring dishes such as lamb.
Up next will be some Chilean wine and hopefully a Chilean recipe or two. I love how receiving wine samples encourages me to try new things and to look up new recipes.
Have you tried a new-to-you food, wine, or other item lately?