OK, so this little guy isn’t the best example of a well-made empanada, but he looks like he’s having fun, and he was really tasty.
N. and I have this thing where we spend all week planning our menu for the next week. We acquire the recipes from a variety of sources: cook books, old friends, family, folklore, local chefs, and occasionally from the internet. It’s something that we enjoy, and put a lot of thought into.
Well, that’s not entirely true. That’s actually a complete lie. We typically wait until two or three minutes before we go to the store to start planning, and then spend that time rifling through the internet to acquire a bare minimum of two, but typically three meals to get us through the week.
A few weeks ago, we planned on making a Tyler Florence recipe for Green Chile Chicken Empanadas. We ended up setting it aside when we didn’t feel like cooking, err… ended up with lots of leftovers, and didn’t get around to making it until last night. Aside from the little guy pictured above and a few of his buddies, they really turned out pretty good.
It’s pretty long, but its worth it:
8 medium tomatillos (about 1 1/2 pounds), husked and rinsed
1 to 2 jalapenos, stemmed
1 Spanish onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 lime, juiced
2 cups finely shredded, cooked chicken, preferably dark meat
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
1 recipe empanada dough, recipe follows
Bring a pot of water to a boil; add the tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, and garlic. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the tomatillos are soft. Drain and cool slightly. Combine the tomatillos, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice in a blender. Add 1/4 cup of water and process to a coarse puree; season with a generous pinch of salt. You should have about 3 cups of this salsa verde.
Combine the shredded chicken and queso fresco in a large mixing bowl. Pour in 1 1/2cups of the salsa verde and fold the ingredients together to moisten. Use as a filling for empanadas. Serve the remaining salsa verde on the side.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Butter, for greasing the pans (didn’t use one, we just got a Silpat)
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Gradually add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water, working it in with your hands to incorporate; the dough should be easy to handle and not sticky. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.
Lightly flour your rolling pin and counter. Divide the dough in 1/2 so it will be easier to work with and roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 10 circles of dough; repeat with the other 1/2.
Spoon 2 generous tablespoons of filling into the center of each pastry circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with the egg wash and then fold the dough over in 1/2 to enclose the filling and form a semi-circle. Tightly seal the edges by crimping with the tines of a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the empanadas on a buttered baking sheet and brush the tops with additional egg wash. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the top of the empanadas for steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
We didn’t really deviate from this, we just made it spicier by adding a can of fire-roasted green chilies and two jalapenos. You can tone it down a little by not adding that much fire, and I (J.) really, really liked it.
I didn’t shred the chicken, but rather cubed it, threw it in a pan and cooked it at 400 degrees F. until it was done. This was very effective, but if we make this again I’ll definitely cook the chicken whole and shred. cubed chicken didn’t fit in the empanadas that well.
I’ve also been trying to figure out how I could have made the empanada dough easier to work with. I think I would have sealed the ball tightly in the plastic wrap (the same one I use over and over to proof rising bread), and let it sit in the fridge for a while longer until it was much cooler throughout, therefore more set.
If you try these, let us know how they go. We liked them, and we hope you do too.