Sunday, September 13, 2009

Empanadas Done Two Ways (or if you're under 10... hot pockets)

The problem with always making new recipes is that very few get remade often. It’s not that we don’t like those recipes because we do, we really do. It’s just that there are so many new ones I want to try when I have free time (which is very little these days) and the recipes that make it into frequent dinner rotation tend to be easy, quick, or low labor intensive and not ridiculously expensive, this is one of those recipes.

I have about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table before the baby has a hunger melt down or snacks on baby puffs to the point where he has no intention of eating what we just put in front of him so I like things that can be pre-prepped or half cooked the night before I intend on serving them, so that I can do the work after the baby goes to bed, so I can cook without a little monkey hanging on my leg chanting up, up, up, up, up.
I pre-made the dough for these and froze it until the night before I planned on cooking them. Took it out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. When we got hom from work I stuffed the little disks and cooked them right before dinner and had food on the table in 40 minutes.... and they reheat well in a microwave... ahhhhhh..... lunch for the next day.

Note if you are not familiar with dough. This is not cookie dough. If you roll it out and it’s not quite perfect make due, it will get more elastic after the first roll and not want to stay rolled out in order to be filled. When I removed the dough from the fridge I cut it into equal portions, balled it up in my hands then flattened briefly before rolling into a slightly oblong shape to be filled, it worked perfectly.

PS. if you tell your kid they are hot pockets instead of empanadas they will eat them right up.

Chicken Empanada with Chorizo and Olives
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet, January 2005
Makes 24 small or 12 large empanadas

Dough: (I used this dough with both fillings because it was sooooo good and buttery)

4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar


3 whole chicken legs, including thighs (2 to 2 1/4 lb total)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded if desired)
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (not hot)
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Egg Wash:1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Make Dough: Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender 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 with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Separate into two flat disk and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 8 hours total.

Make Filling: Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 6 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add olives, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes total.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. (Sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it’s not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely chop meat. Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes (or refridgerate overnight).

Form Empanadas: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide first dough and half of second dough into 18 equal pieces and form each into a disk. (The remaining dough can be stored in the freezer for future use.) Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick).

Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling (for large 2 teaspoons for small) onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make 17 more empanadas in same manner, arranging on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Beef Filling

Adapted again from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Gourmet September 2007.... must branch out more so that I am not always remaking her recipes... but they are so good!
Makes 24 small empanadas or 12 large


2 hard-boiled farm fresh eggs, or whatever kind you have, chopped into bits
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 pound ground sirloin
2 tablespoons raisins
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed olives (I finely chopped these but I think a bigger chop next time will produce more flavor)
1 (14-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water (for egg wash)


Cook onion in olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef and cook, breaking up lumps with a fork, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
Add raisins, olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and tomatoes with reserved juice, then cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Stir in hardboiled egg and spread on a plate to cool.

Lower your racks to the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees to cook right away or place in container in fridge overnight if you are cooking them the next day like I did.
Flour work area. Pull out your dough, cut into equal pieces. I used 1.5 oz. pieces for my small empanadas. Roll into a ball in your hand like you used to when you were a kid with play dough. Or like you do now when playing with your kids ;) Flatten ball by smushing onto counter with the palm of your hand. Flour your rolling pin and gently roll out into an oblong shape. Eyeball the half way point in your oblong and fill with 2 teaspoons of filling for small disk and 2-3 tablespoons for large. Fold disk in half (SK recommends using water to help seal edges, didn’t see that until just now so I don’t think it’s necessary but can’t hurt). Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp with a fork, or fold over with fingers like you’re tucking in the edged on top of the half moon, stuffed, disk. Make more empanadas in same manner.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in lower third of oven, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes.

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