AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When it comes to the Super Bowl, food is just as important as a big-screen TV on Super Bowl Sunday, which just happens to be four days away. Buffalo wings, if you can find them, nachos, seven-layer dip, pizza, all football game day favorites. But for Chef Jose Garces, football means empanadas.

JOSE GARCES: Growing up in Chicago on a cold winter day, typically on a Sunday afternoon while my dad and two brothers and I were watching a Bears football game, empanadas would just appear in front of my lap, and I would be like, wow, thank you.

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CORNISH: Empanadas: baked or fried pockets of dough, stuffed with cheese or meat or some other filling. Jose Garces says they're basically turnovers And every Latin-American country boasts their own variety. Garces owns a number of restaurants, including Amada in Philadelphia. He's one of the Food Network's Iron Chefs and the author of "The Latin Road Home." His parents are from Ecuador. And for our Found Recipe series, Garces wanted to share the two types of empanadas he grew up with, starting with the one he enjoyed on those snowy football Sundays in Chicago.

GARCES: So my mom's empanadas were known as Empanadas de Viento, literally turnovers from the air. They're meant to be nice and light and airy. They're a flour-based dough and usually have a cheese filling. The shell gets all bubbly and crispy on the outside when it fries. Then it gets sprinkled with sugar, which makes it an even more heavenly vehicle for the savory, gooey cheese filling.

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GARCES: The other empanada that I really like to go back to is my grandma's empanada. Her name is Mamita Amada. She's a 91-year-old gal. She lives in Ecuador. She grew up on the coast in Manabi. Very opinionated. She will be the first to tell you if things need salt, herbs or more aromatic vegetables. And she makes a fantastic Empanada de Verde, which is a green plantain-dough empanada.

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GARCES: The plantains are cooked in water until they're almost falling apart. Then they're drained and riced. Once they're riced, they're filled with cheese, and then they're fried and they're crispy. And when I went to open Amada, which I named after my grandma Mamita Amada, I put Amada's empanada on the menu. I brought Mamita Amada to my prep kitchen with my prep staff and I asked her to make these empanadas.

Five to 10 minutes into it, I see her there and she's got the empanadas working, but she has a beer in her hand. She's having a great time with the staff. Five to 10 minutes later, she's rolling out 30 of these things at a clip. Her, just, attitude towards flavor and food has been a huge inspiration. And even at 91, you know, it just means to me that I can cook for a long time hopefully as well.

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CORNISH: Chef Jose Garces. To find his recipes for empanadas, visit the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED page at npr.org.

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