Thursday, February 21, 2013

Omni Hotels' Simply Street Food: Duck Empanadas with Smoked Tomato Mayo



A little over a week ago the Omni Interlocken Hotel here in Denver hosted some area food bloggers to a tasting of their menu for their Simply Street Food promotion.  In an effort to get the word out about this temporary event, the Omni treated us to an afternoon of delicious food and drink in the cozy pub like surroundings of their casual Tap Room.

Our host for the afternoon Sous Chef Troy Micheletti, explained to us that the Simply Street Food menu is the result of a competition between more than 100 Omni chefs from San Antonio to Singapore, who were asked to create street food inspired dishes made popular in their homelands.  From all of these recipes, six of the best were chosen to make up this menu and we were lucky enough to have to tasted them all. 


With roots in Nigeria, Acaraje de Orixa is commonly sold in the streets of Bahia, Brazil and is the creation of Chef Josemar Passos of the Tivoli Ecoresort Praia do Forte. This Afro-Brazilian delicacy is prepared with a ground black-eyed pea and shrimp paste.



Duck Empanadas with Smoked Tomato Mayo, was created by Chef Gene Moss of the Omni La Mansion del Rio in San Antonio, Texas.  The crispy empanada is stuffed with flavorful duck confit and paired with a sweet and smoky tomato mayonnaise.



Chef Scott Mole of Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, PA,  created this Citrus Ancho Braised Lamb Tostada, which is a combination of delicate and tender lamb piled atop a crispy tortilla.  Braised in a secret family recipe that was inspired by the Mexican cuisine of his parents, this is a blend of simple, fresh ingredients served with a Latin twist.



The Chicken Musakhan Sandwich is inspired by Musakhan, a traditional Palestinian chicken dish which is a common Middle Eastern street food.  The flavors of this grilled chicken sandwich are vivid and unexpected with the addition of the dill pickle, mustard and ketchup.  Chef Mohamed Alaa Allaham of Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi is the talented creator of this delicious dish.



Who wouldn't love this sandwich?  Short Rib and Vermont Cheddar Sandwich, is the creation of Chef Gerard Tice of the Omni Parker House, Boston, MA.  Bursting with the flavors of fresh beef, native produce, Vermont cheddar cheese and artisan brioche, this sandwich is definitely a highlight of this colorful menu.


Famous Peddler's Char Kway Teow is a popular dish served throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.  This version of the dish, developed by Chef Andy Oh of Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore, features plump shrimp and flavorful bits of sausage tossed with flat rice noodles.

My photos are representative of the menu's portion sizes which were served to us on our visit.  As you can tell with prices ranging from $9 - $15, these dishes are a pretty good value.  The Tap Room is open from Monday thru Thursday 4pm - 11pm, Friday 4pm - 2am and Saturday and Sunday 11am - midnight.  This special menu is available now through the month of March.  Be sure and pair any of these dishes with one of their beers from their amazing selection.  This definitely goes on my list of things to do on a cold snowy Saturday afternoon . . . or any other afternoon for that matter.



Since I always add a recipe at the end of my posts, I chose to prepare the duck empanadas as my featured recipe. Chef Moss just may burn my house down for this, but I felt I needed to make an executive decision and alter the recipe just a bit so home cooks might find it easier to prepare.  Since duck is often times expensive and hard to find, I made mine with some shredded turkey thighs which I found to be a nice substitute. 

I also abbreviated the Smoked Tomato Mayonnaise recipe a bit and it turned out pretty close to the original if I do say so myself.  If you would like to view and make the Omni original recipe, click on the link at the bottom of this page.  I know at first glance this recipe sounds a bit involved, but since all the components are prepared in advance, assembly is really quite quick and they take just a few minutes to shallow fry. 

"Duck" Empanadas with Smoked Tomato Mayonnaise, Adapted from Omni Hotels' Simply Street Food

For the meat filling:
2 large turkey thighs (mine weighed 2 - 1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper (and whatever other spices you like to season you protein with)

Season thighs.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Cover and cook for approximately 1 hour or until juices run clear and meat is cooked through.  Uncover meat for the last 20 - 30 minutes of cooking time to give it a more colorful appearance.  Thighs can also be cooked over a medium high heat on an outdoor charcoal grill.  Remove cooked thighs from heat, allow to sit for 10 minutes before removing meat from the bone and shredding with a fork; set aside.

For the mayonnaise:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons finely diced onion
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar

Place all ingredients in a medium size bowl, stir well, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the marinated cabbage:
1 - 1/2 cups finely shredded cabbage (approximately 1/8 of a small head of cabbage)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (I use 1/2 teaspoon dried basil which worked well)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint (Not being real fond of mint I used just a pinch of dried, which is all I had on hand. Hey it's winter!)
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the empanada dough (Adapted from Epicurious):
2 - 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 stick ice cold butter, chopped into 1/2" cubes
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon vodka or white vinegar

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for a few seconds to combine.  Add the butter and process until the mixture looks like corn meal.

In a small spouted container  whisk together the egg, water and vodka.  With the processor running, pour the mixture into the flour and process until the dough is formed and pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Flatten to a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Empanada Assembly:
Remove chilled dough from the refrigerator.  Divide into 12 equal portions.  Roll each portion into a 5" round.  Place about 1/12 of the meat (about 1 ounce or a heaping tablespoon) and drained cabbage onto 1/2 of the circle.  Dampen the edges of the dough with just a bit of water. Fold the dough over the filling and press edges together.  Press the edges with the tines of a fork to decorate; repeat with all of the dough and filling, set aside.

Pour enough oil into a medium size sauce pan so that it comes up the sides at least 1".  Place over medium heat and heat until the oil is hot and shimmering.  Drop empanadas into the hot oil one or two at a time (do not crowd).  Watching carefully fry empanadas for just a minute or two on each side or until they are golden brown.  Drain on paper towel lined tray.  Keep warm until ready to serve.  Serve with the Smoked Tomato Mayo

Makes 12

Looking for more information about this event?  Be sure and visit Barb at Creative Culinary, Ansh at Spice RootsHolly at A Baker's House or the Omni Hotel website where you can find links to recipes and more information about Simply Street Food.




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