It occurred to me, as I was making the empanadas today, the last couple of weeks have been an ethnic diversity palooza in my kitchen. I made a Moroccan chicken tagine with apricots and olives, Asian inspired sticky ginger sesame chicken meatballs, Mexican tostadas with my friend’s pickled pigs feet sauce, a Vietnamese shrimp spring roll bowl with sweet chili mango sauce, Italian chicken parmesan with linguine and marinara, Polish pierogis with polish sausage and cabbage, and Jewish penicillin, chicken soup with matzo balls. It’s all been good. A couple recipes were better than others. But good just the same. It makes cooking and mealtime much more interesting when you experiment and try new dishes. A couple weeks ago I got new kitchen gadgets that made pierogis and empanadas more fun to make…a crimper and a roller that cuts the dough into perfectly sized discs to fit the crimper. The gadgets are the real reason I was inspired to make the empanadas today. I have a few packages of pierogis in my freezer. Now I will have a few bags of empanadas in my freezer. The recipe for the empanadas comes from America’s Test Kitchen, special collector’s edition, The Best Mexican Recipes. There are a lot of great recipes in that magazine.
3 3/4 cups AP flour (18 3/4 oz.)
1 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 T unsalted, chilled butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cups ice water
2 T olive oil
Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Scatter the butter in the processor over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4 cup of water at a time, stirring after each addition. You may not need to use all of the water. Once the dough sticks together, turn out onto a clean, dry work surface and gently press into a cohesive ball. Divide the dough into two discs, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour. Let the chilled dough sit out on the counter for a few minutes before rolling.
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling. I made a vegetarian filling with corn, peppers, and cheese.
2 T unsalted butter
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
3 whole canned mild green chilis chopped fine
3 green onions, whites minced and greens sliced thin
1 small mild orange pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper
3/4 cup frozen corn thawed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
6 oz shredded Jack cheese
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and cook the peppers and scallion whites until softened and lightly browned.
Stir in the garlic and the spices and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant.
Stir in the corn and remove from the heat. Put the corn, pepper mixture in a bowl and refrigerate until completely cool.
While that’s chilling, slice the scallion greens, cilantro, and grate the Jack cheese. Once cool, mix all of the ingredients together and now you’re ready to start rolling your dough.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut discs with a biscuit cutter, a glass, or, if you’re fortunate enough to have one of these rollers, roll on.
Fill each circle with 1 T of filling. Brush the edges of the dough with water to help ensure a good seal. Fold the dough over and crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. Or, if you’re fortunate enough to have a crimper, crimp on.
Transfer the empanadas to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each with olive oil.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to cool and enjoy!
NOTE: The filling options are endless. There is a beef and cheese filling in the magazine and many, many more recipes on line. The empanadas freeze well. Put them in the freezer on a cookie sheet until frozen and then transfer them to zip lock freezer bags. Bake them a few extra minutes if they’ve come out of the freezer. Serve them as is or with salsa or Mexican crema.