Empanadas are a pickle. Not literally. But consider this: Wikipedia describes over 40 variations from 21 countries and 23 “similar dishes” from other cuisines, yet I can’t find a single titillating factoid to share about this dish. I fared much better researching coffee cake when I thought I’d be doing yesterday’s blog, and after Eva’s adventure I feel bad for switching after B gave up Empanada day. But what’s done is done, and L got to eat a yummy coffee cake and empanadas in one week, and I was very happy to eat empanadas and leave the cake to L.
So if I can’t educate you with trivia, I will simply offer some wisdom: Empanadas don’t need fun facts because (as evidenced by the wiki page) they are just darn good to eat. No gimmicks necessary.
If you aren’t familiar with the empanada, it is a stuffed pastry, usually but not always savory, and usually but not always shaped like a half-moon. They are originally from Spain and Portugal, but are incredibly popular throughout South America and the Caribbean. Due to their handy dandy shape they make a great portable snack, and are often sold by street vendors.
I could have chosen any of hundreds, if not thousands of recipes, but I am me, so both the dough and filling are Sage Originals and I can vouch for their inauthenticity.
Empanada Dough (makes 8)
1 C Unbleached All Purpose flour
1 C Whole Grain Whole Wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/3 C cold butter, cut into 1/2″ squares
1 small egg
1/3 C ice water
1 Tbsp while vinegar
In a large bowl, sift flour with salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
4 skinless chicken thighs
1-1/2 Tbsp oil
1/2 large yellow pepper, diced small
1 shallot, minced
1 red fresno pepper, minced
1-1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro
1/4 C grated manchego cheese
1/4 C grated white cheddar
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp savory
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cajun spice mix (I like to make my own)
1 Tbsp mild chile powder (such as you’d use for enchilada sauce)
1 egg + water for egg wash
Chop chicken into small (1/2-3/4″) pieces. Heat oil in pan and add chicken. Begin browning the chicken, then add cumin seeds, shallot and fresno pepper. When chicken is well browned deglaze pan with vinegar. Add enough water to cover the chicken, and the six dry seasonings. Simmer on low heat.
While the chicken simmers prepare the dough. Divide it into 8 pieces. Keeping the remainder covered, roll one section into a circle 1/8″ thick. It should be 5-6″ across. Set it aside, covered with plastic wrap, and repeat with remaining dough.
When the water in the chicken is reduced by half add the yellow pepper. Continue simmering until the pepper is tender. Remove from heat and add cilantro and cheeses. Season to taste and allow it to cool a bit. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Spoon about 3 Tbsp of the mixture onto each round. Seal edges and crimp with a fork. Arrange them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash generously and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
I thought they turned out marvelously. I was really impressed with the dough. It was light, flaky, and crispy at the edges. There was none of the sogginess I feared.
We ate them with hot sauce and a blue cheese/red onion jus, which was startlingly inauthentic and extremely tasty. Anything goes, right?