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5411 Empanadas

April 13, 2011

Food trucks have been making a resurgence in the American culinary landscape by reinventing the wheel, so-to-speak. Here, in Chicago, it seems like every day, you hear about a new gourmet food truck that sounds even more promising than the last.

For my inaugural review here on “Castor-Rated,” I have decided to give my review and opinions on 5411. Fifty Four Eleven makes empanadas for catering and delivery. They have also started selling their fare via a migrating food truck. As stated on their website…

Fifty Four Eleven is a premium brand founded by three Argentine friends from diverse professional backgrounds as Economics, Business Administration, Marketing and Advertising. Fifty Four Eleven stands for quality, simplicity and a sense of fun.

Actually, 5411 stands for the international dialing codes for Argentina and Buenos Aires, respectfully. Pretty clever if you ask me. Not only do you get empanadas, you also get a little lesson on how to call your friends in South America!

OK, now down to the good stuff.

My loving fiancé has taken a big liking to the food truck revolution here in Chicago. Today, she snuck away to meet the truck and grab some empanadas for herself and me. When she came back, she handed me a Caramelized Onion and a BBQ Chicken filled empanada.

Caramelized Onion:

At first bite, this empanada was delicious. The pastry crust was flaky and the onions inside were sautéed to a consistency that was soft yet, not mushy. The parmesan cheese helped to cut the sweetness of the onion while, at the same time, acted as binder to help solidify the liquids in the filling. Upon further feasting, the pastry crust became somewhat chewy. I can safely assume this is from the crust absorbing the filling. Personally, I would have preferred a crunchier pastry crust throughout the hand-pie. Along with the crust becoming somewhat and understandably chewy, the filling of sautéed onions became very sweet. Perhaps this is due to the type of onion used (Spanish, White, Yellow, Sweet, etc…). Or, perhaps the old shortcut of adding sugar to sautéing onions in order to speed up the “caramelizing” process was in play. If it were the latter, it is a shame. Nothing beats caramelized onions that have reached that rich brown color from 20-40 minutes of sautéing. The natural sugars of the onion become mildly sweet while still holding the onion’s original flavor. This, on the other hand, seemed to be a little overly sweet for my liking. Perhaps a sharper Parmesan would help to cut the sweetness a tad? Possibly.

Overall, this empanada was a tasty treat. Perhaps a little too sweet to eat more than one or two without something else to cut the sugar. Still, a good introduction to 5411.

 

BBQ Chicken:

Out of the two empanadas sampled, this was by far my favorite. The particular empanada I tasted had slightly charred edges which helped to add to the overall flavor and crispiness of the pastry. In turn, this crust seemed to be crispier throughout the whole pie. With the pastry crust being a welcomed greeting to the empanada, the filling was an even more welcoming “meat and bones” to the Latin street food. The hand cut chicken breast was tender, succulent, and was almost perfectly bathed in a barbecue sauce. It was not a saucy, runny, sticky mess. Just enough sauce to calmly say, “Hello,” and then fade away while it escorted the chicken to melt into your taste buds. Many places try to over complicate barbecue sauce. Which, in fact, ruins the sauce and everything else the sauce touches. This was not the case with 5411’s sauce. Yes, it was, what one might call, a sweet sauce. However, there was a slight tartness to the sauce. Maybe it was a pinch of vinegar coming through. In addition to the mild balance of sweet and tart, there was also a mild bite of cilantro. Personally, I think this cilantro brought the empanada back from Southern BBQ to Latin American cuisine. The cilantro helped to keep the tongue awake but not overpower the flavor of the whole pastry. All of these aspects combined to create a nicely balanced sauce that did not take over the snack and allowed the natural flavor of the chicken to peek through.

I wish I had two or three more of these little buggers to wolf down. Or even, one giant empanada! I will definitely have this filling option again.

 

In addition to the Caramelized Onion and BBQ chicken, Fifty Four Eleven also offers: Beef, Ham & Cheese, Spinach & Cheese, and Sweet Corn fillings. I look forward to trying these additional options.

Overall impression:

Great, simple Latin American street fare. Not to mention a great value. At $1.99 a piece, it is hard complain at all about the quality of these little treats. I would definitely recommend these to anyone looking for something outside of the ordinary.

The BBQ Chicken was by far my favorite.

The Caramelized Onion was too sweet for my liking. Stay away from the sugar.

My only true wish would be that these empanadas were a little bigger. I would even pay a little more for a little more food. Maybe have a small and large option.

 You can follow 5411 Empanadas on Twitter: @5411empanadas

Or

Go to their website: http://5411empanadas.com/

 

Castor-Rated: 4 of 5 CHOMPS

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 11:46 pm

    I’ve got some great memories of food trucks. When I was little I’d ride with my dad in the semi to Indy hauling corn. There was always a food truck, or lunch wagon if you like, at the plant and dad would always get us lunch. Everytime I see one it brings back fond memories.

  2. andres permalink
    April 14, 2011 12:40 am

    Great review. Very interesting and useful!
    Just to clarify 54 is the international code for ARGENTINA and 11 is the city of Buenos Aires. The amazing country of Brazil has nothing to do in this equation. Thanks, Andrés.

    • kruze1661 permalink*
      April 14, 2011 2:16 pm

      Thanks Andres! The correction has been made.

  3. Erik permalink
    April 15, 2011 1:23 am

    All your talk about food trucks lately inspired me to do a bit of google research…astonished to learn that it is actually *ILLEGAL* for food trucks to actually do cooking in the truck. AMAZING!

    No wonder it is just coming on Chicago. One of the things I really enjoy in NYC is the ubiquity of street food.

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