Empanada Flatbread (Paleo, AIP)
The countdown is on. We take my son Nathan to college next week and I’m riding a roller coaster of joy and grief that I’ve dreaded since he was born. The time we spend together grows more and more precious, which has been happening all year, but in the last weeks has intensified into slow-motion, golden-lit moments that feel like scenes from a favorite movie as I do my best to savor every minute.Cooking for Nathan has been one of my greatest pleasures and I’m going to miss creating little gifts for him on a regular basis. Empanadas are one of his very favorite dishes, so of course I had to work a version into this last hurrah of meals. I’ve riffed on this recipe in many ways over the years, depending on how much time I had to pull dinner together. If I wasn’t in a rush I’d make real-deal individual empanadas wrapped in flaky pastry. If I was scrambling, I’d make one large empanada in a pie plate, between two sheets of short pastry, aka empanada pie. Lately, I’ve been serving the piccadillo fillling over this The Domestic Man grain-free flatbread and it might just be our favorite iteration yet. I make it with arrowroot flour and instead of spreading the dough on a hot pizza stone, I roll it out on parchment paper (cover with plastic wrap while you roll, it lifts right off), then transfer it to a hot pizza stone, parchment paper and all, with a pizza peel. Works like a charm and let me say, these autoimmune protocol/AIP days it’s a real treat to enjoy crusty, chewy bread! That said, if you eat grains, purchased naan, heated on the grill, makes a fast and fantastic base as well.Our go-to empanada dipping sauce – or in this case, drizzling sauce – is good ol’ chimichurri. Yep, again. What can I say? I love the stuff. The zing of fresh herbs, garlic, and vinegar is the perfect foil for the salty-sweet filling.In the locker room at Vertical Endeavors suppressing hilarity after I turned the harness around
The chimichurri for grief, as it were, is not just staying busy but really pushing myself to try new, difficult things. I’ve been on a tear lately, making an ass out of myself – in a good way – in exercise classes that intimidate the hell out of me. I’ve wiped out, put equipment on backward, made every muscle in my body sore, and felt proud of myself for tolerating discomfort. It’s taken until my son is leaving for college for me to realize that I’ve wasted an awful lot of time trying to live a safe and comfortable life. In fact, for many legitimate reasons, it was my highest priority, even though I didn’t realize it.Zoe and Jen grilling pizzas and other goodies at our National Night Out Block Party
It’s not my priority anymore. I can see now that the good and juicy stuff is at the edge of uncomfortable, painful even, and I’ve set a goal to put myself in that position on a regular basis, whether it’s tough workouts, uncomfortable social situations, difficult conversations, or projects that scare the hell out of me.
I’ve also been careful to spend as much time as possible laughing and talking and eating – of course – with new and old friends. I’ve enjoyed delightful, bawdy, AIP-friendly, al fresco meals at Corner Table, The Kenwood, Tiny Diner, The Modern, and at our block party last week for National Night Out. I’ve found a pretty good groove of giving myself time to grieve and think and write, and then set it all aside to do something fun. Nathan has earned this freedom and I refuse to weigh down his excitement with my sadness. He deserves to see me keep my mom-dread in perspective and get on with all of the wonderful, exciting things in my life. And to celebrate all of the wonderful, exciting things in his.
2 tablespoons olive oil or beef fat
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 medium sweet potato (I use white sweet potatoes), peeled and diced small
1 pound ground grass-fed beef
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped green olives
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth
One large or two medium flatbreads, lightly oiled and heated over a grill or in a skillet (see this AIP recipe from The Domestic Man or my recipe for coconut-free AIP squash flatbread)
Add oil to a large skillet. Set over medium heat and when oil is hot, add onion to the pan. Saute for 5 minutes, until onion is starting to soften, then add potatoes to the pan. Stir to coat with oil and cover pan for 5 minutes. Remove cover and add ground beef, oregano, and garlic to the pan.
Saute beef, breaking it up with the side of a spatula or spoon, until no longer pink. Add raisins, olives, and broth to the pan and continue cooking and breaking up the beef until broth is evaporated. Season piccadillo with salt to taste.
To serve, spoon piccadillo over warm flatbread. Cut into wedges and drizzle with chimichurri.
PS If you haven’t yet seen the movie Boyhood, you should, especially if you’re a parent. It’s astonishing.