Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Potato and Fava Beans (Maybe) Empanadas

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Food people are obsessed with names, labels and categories. If you call your dish something, then it'd better really be that something. Otherwise, you're in big big trouble, mister! You see that on all the cooking competition shows. I remember on Chopped, an ill-fated attempt at banh mi was publicly called out as being so not. On Top Chef, one of Tom Colicchio's biggest pet peeve also has to do with what a contestants calls one dish versus what s/he actually delivers.

But does it really matter? Especially if it's delicious?

To me, the bigger crime is always bad food, not poorly named food. The point of called a dish something is to set up some sort of boundary in defining what it is, like if I grilled corn I wouldn't call it fried rice. But whether the boundary is fuzzy or firm is up to the listener. If everything we cook is subject to strict scrutiny, then we should just all stop cooking. Because there's no way that my Chinese food is as authentic as my grandma's.

I like to cook food that's out-of-the-box and hard to categorize. I'm not so concerned that Gordon Ramsay is going to call me a donkey for making unconventional, improper food. But I do want to make delicious food. Here, I made a potato and fava bean stuffed something. I struggled with what I wanted to call this. It's sort of like a perogie because it's stuffed with potatoes. It's sort of like a ravioli but I didn't boil them. It's sort of like an empanada but I didn't use puff pastry. It's sort of like a pot sticker, but I didn't pan fry it. It's sort of like a dumpling, because I used dumpling wrapper. And on and on that went in my head...

I ended up with something totally unique and defies categorization. What I should call this bizarro creation is up for debate. But it's really delicious with the lemon herb sauce that I made. The original recipe that inspired this monster of a dish can be found here.

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