The myth of busy is all around us. I swear I’ve been too busy to put up a post, but I know it’s more that I haven’t made the time. After a day of work and kids and whatever else life throws at me, my couch sounds so appealing sometimes. Here I am today rectifying my laziness and getting up this post though, so victory is mine (yours? ok we’ll enjoy it together)!
On to empanadas…
So, being a child of the 70’s I grew up in a household where shortening was definitely all around me (remember butter flavored Crisco? is that even still a thing??), you can dork out about it here and here. That said I am so very wary of it, I’ve heard all the myths about how it’s an industrial lubricant created during WWII, etc., but in reality it was created in 1911 to store soap fat and someone realized it’s use in baking. The result is flaky pastry history.
Empanadas require shortening, a lot of it. These are not a health food, but they are delicious. Butter doesn’t have the same properties as Crisco so to achieve the desired consistency of the dough you do have to use it (lard is also totally acceptable, but not always practical if you need vegetarian empanadas for 100 people).
Empanada dough is quite soft, but because of all the shortening, it isn’t as sticky as you’d expect. You roll it out much the same way you would a pie crust, adding flour to the board and the rolling pin. I recommend using a biscuit cutter to get uniformity of size when cutting out your circles and it takes less filling than you think. As for folding them over, you can do it by hand and us the tines of a fork to make the pretty edges, but a press is pretty inexpensive and you can use it to make other types of dumplings (gyoza comes to mind), so you might as well get one. Another tip, when using the press put a piece of plastic wrap in it so the empanadas don’t blow out the back of it. That will make sense once you start making them.
You can fill empanadas with just about anything. The photos below are of roasted sweet potatoes and black beans. I seasoned them with oregano, cinnamon, ancho pepper, and cumin (pro tip, if you get too much cinnamon in a savory dish, add cumin to balance it out, amazing results). I’ve used chicken with olives, peppers, and onions; you could use pulled pork or beef as well. Use your imagination, and your leftovers, to make tomorrow night’s dinner.
makes roughly 60 empanadas
- 4 c flour
- ¼ c sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ¾ c shortening
- 1 egg, well beaten
- ½ c cold water, mixed with 1 T vinegar (white or apple cider)
- special equipment-rolling pin, round biscuit cutter, dumpling press
- Combine flour, sugar and salt
- Cut shortening into flour mixture until it resembles wet sand.
- Add the egg, stir until well combined.
- Add water and vinegar mixture, stir until the dough gathers into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees
- Cut dough into four equal pieces, put three of them back in the fridge
- Roll out each section and cut with biscuit cutter. Roll out any scraps and keep cutting circles until you’ve used it all up. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough.
- Fill each circle with the filling of your choice. The amount depends on the size of your circle, 2 tsp is a rough estimate.
- Pinch the edges of the empanada together to form a half moon and crimp the edges (you can do this to all of them at once, or get smart and use your press)
- Brush the tops with egg wash, bake 20 to 25 minutes until brown.
- The filling wil be screaming hot so give them a minute to cool before you start inhaling them.
sweet potato, black bean empanada