Buttery, Super-Flaky El Porteno Empanadas a Sweet Surprise

M. Brody
Humitas: Flaky on the outside, crunchy with corn on the inside.

​There's one item we can't resist at the Island Earth Farmers' Market at the Metreon: El Porteño's handmade empanadas. We found our favorite by accident. We'd ordered a jamon y queso, but when we got home discovered the sweet surprise of crunchy corn kernels instead of the ham and cheese we were expecting — the counter person had mistakenly slipped us a humita, which, besides corn, contains roasted red peppers. We wanted more.

 

On our next visit we did try the equally excellent jamon y queso (the filling of prosciutto, Fontina, and mozzarella reflects Argentina's large Italian population). As with the humita, the pastry was buttery and flaky, more like puff pastry than the solid crusts of other empanadas around town. El Porteño owner Joey Ahearne got the recipe from his Argentinean grandmother. He uses Prather Ranch organic, dry-aged, grass-fed beef in his carne empanadas, to duplicate the taste of the Argentinian beef he sampled on family visits. The carne also contains pimento-stuffed olives, raisins, and chopped egg.

Other varieties include pollo (Fulton Valley chicken, chicken chorizo, raisins, olives), and fugazzeta (aged cheddar, onions, oregano), all $3, as well as an irresistible sweet empanada ($1.50), stuffed with homemade dulce de leche and banana. We find that a humita and a jamon y queso, topped off with a dulce de leche, make for a swell lunch. They're available at the Metreon daily, as well as at the Sunday USF farmers' market.

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