• We believe you can cook everything you do in an oven, on an open fire. Here, the brown bag creates a mini oven.

    Recipe and styling by Piet Marais
    Photograph by Bruce Tuck

    Spiced banana and rum empanada braai pies

    Serves: 5
    Cooking Time: 2 hrs + 4 hrs, to chill



    • 6 bananas
    • 50ml rum
    • 4 tbsp sugar
    • 20g butter
    • 1 vanilla pod, split + seeds scraped and reserved
    • PASTRY

    • 200g butter
    • 250g cake flour + extra, to dust
    • 1 egg
    • 5 tsp sugar
    • pinch salt

    • 150g sugar
    • 100ml water
    • 250ml (1 cup) fresh cream
    • 1 star aniseed
    • seeds of 2 cardamom pods
    • 1 vanilla pod, split + seeds scraped and reserved
    • 1 clove
    • 1 chipotle pepper
    • sour cream, to serve
    • fresh blueberries, to garnish (optional)



    For the filling, grill the bananas on an open fire in their skins until soft. Combine the flesh with the remaining ingredients and set aside to cool.


    For the pastry, rub the butter into the flour, then add the remaining ingredients, combine and knead lightly on a thoroughly dusted surface. Roll the dough into 5 balls and chill, 4 hours.


    For the dulce de leche, combine 150g sugar and the water in a saucepan, and simmer over low heat, until caramel forms. Scald the cream, spices and chipotle pepper; infuse and strain into the caramel. Mix and cool. We like to mix a little of this mixture with sour cream and serve the two dips alongside.


    To assemble, place each ball in between 2 rectangular 25cm x 15cm sheets of baking paper and roll the rolling pin over the baking paper to form a disc with 10 – 15cm diameter. Repeat these steps for the remaining dough.


    Open the baking paper sheets, divide the filling among the discs and, holding the baking paper by its edges, fold it over into a half-moon, crimp the edges of the empanada, remove and discard the baking paper. Place the empanadas in a large or individual brown paper bag(s). Place on top of a braai grid over medium coals and grill, flipping once, 10 minutes per side. The fat melts into the bag, enabling you to see when the braai pies are browned. (This is similar to the en papillote method, for the technically inclined.) Alternatively, transfer the empanadas to a baking tray lined with baking paper and bake at 180˚C in an oven, 30 minutes or until light brown.


    Serve with the dulce de leche, sour cream and garnish with fresh blueberries, if desired.