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Sunday, May 06, 2007

tiny empanadas

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Pastry is a pain. There's no doubt about it, making anything involving pastry, filling and stuffing will put me in a generally foul mood.

Not entirely sure why I thought it would be a good idea to include these little guys as part of my cinco de mayo fiesta, but nonetheless on Friday night, I found myself cursing, swearing and generally displeased about the whole situation.

My "love" affair with pastry is long and sordid....starting from the tender age of 10 when I first burnt pie crust, continuing to a rather unfortuante pierogi incident in university, and culminating (on Friday, it would seem), in sorry attempts at tiny little empanadas, filled with a spicy 'chicken-y' filling. These guys actually turned out pretty well, tasted good and looked very cute, but it doesn't lessen the pain and irritation of making pastry, rolling out said pastry, cutting said pastry using a SPIEGELAU crystal wine balloon (this actually quite ticked me off - it was the only glass vessel with a wide enough mouth and thin enough rim to do the trick, so I had to pour my lovely cooking accompaniment into an inferior crystal to be able to properly cut the dough).

Anyway, I'm rambling. These empanadas are very good (from and since I'm clearly NOT martha, I don't know if I recommend making them according to the original recipe. To start with, the original empanadas are TINY. Perhaps it's my ignorant existence, subsisting upon neo-latin Canadian bastardizations of this treat, but I always thought empanadas were a little bigger than this. I ended up getting so annoyed partway through that I only made a dozen of the little ones, and then packed away the rest of the dough and filling for another day.

These do make a lovely appetizer, and if you're patient enough to make them, they would be a great little party snack. They're easy to make and what's better is that they don't look like you made them.

Read on for the recipe...

Spicy "Chicken" Empanadas

1 whole chicken breast (1 pound), skin removed (I used a package of veggie ground "chicken" - has less fat and in this type of dish, it works extremely well). I just didn't boil it for as long.
veggie ground chicken
1/2 white onion, halved
1 dried bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon) or regular cinnamon
4 canned plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, coarsely chopped (I also added a jalapeno)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and coarsely chopped - couldn't find these so substituted sunflower seeds
Crema pura or sour cream, for serving (optional)

Click HERE for empanada dough recipe.


1. Make filling: Place chicken breast, half the onion, and the bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and poach until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, and discard onion and bay leaf. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat from the bone with a fork; set aside.

2. Finely chop remaining onion. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic; sauté until soft and translucent. Stir in cumin and canela; cook 1 minute. Add shredded chicken, tomatoes, chipotle, and reserved cooking liquid. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until liquid has thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper; stir in cilantro and pepitas. Set aside to cool.

3. Make empanadas: Break off a 1 1/2-inch ball of empanada dough. On a clean work surface, roll dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out a round of dough. (Or use an inverted glass as a guide, cutting around it with a sharp paring knife.)
empanada dough

This is what I ended up doing to my poor Spiegelau...
a new use for spiegelau crystal

4. Place 1 teaspoon filling in center of each round. Using a pastry brush, moisten edges of dough with water; fold dough over to seal, pressing gently. Crimp edges with a fork; set aside. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather scraps and reroll. (Only do this once, to avoid toughening the dough.)

tiny empanada

cute little empanadas

5. Brush empanadas with oil and bake at 375F for 15 minutes, turning half-way through. Serve immediately with crema pura or cream on the side, if desired.

yummy little empanadas

Yum! Stay tuned for more fiesta-themed recipes, including seafood-asparagus ceviche, chocolate flan and more! :)

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

Hey!!! I ate that!

Brilynn said...

Those look delicious, but all empanadas should be JUMBO! (Well according to me anyways... but what do I know?)

leslie @ definitely not martha said...

Tom - yep, you did eat them. They were pretty good, eh?

brilynn - I thought of you when I gave the post a title. I made two jumbo ones for my freezer. If I make them again, they will DEFINITELY be jumbo. :)

Sara - Piperita said...

This empanadas reportage is wonderful!
So tiny!
But I do agree with Brilynn: only JUMBO!!!

BubblyBunny said...

Mmm...these looks yummy. Can you buy the dough or do you have to make them? If I can buy the dough, I will definitely try the recipe.

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