Meat Pocket Short Story: Empanadas

Empanada – Spanish verb “empanar”, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.

Empanadas! I have crafted another meat pocket short story – chapter 5, if you will. Read more on the early chapters here. Empanadas hail from several countries, probably completely unbeknownst the other back in the day, including Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Philippines. They are another stuffed pastry, that could encase any variety of ingredients and leftovers. Similar to a pasty, but good (IMHO). I think future recipes I will tuck in some potatoes, could do peas, maybe showcase just chorizo or just chicken or just beef….

Thank you smitten kitchen for the recipe! Here is my execution with a few interpretations. Sorry for the lack of pictures…..


2+ Pre-made pie crusts OR……. (cho0se wisely, I did)

4 1/2 cups 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, (2 to 2 1/4 lb total) – note, I had some baked chicken breasts from the dinner the night before, I scraped the sauce off (yes, for real) and shredded it up and incorporated with other chicken….
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips (always seems like sooo much)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo
1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives (this was a pain in the butt, make martinis with the rest)                                      1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Dough: Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface, then knead gently just once or twice to bring dough together. Form dough ball into two flat rectangles and chill them wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total. ORRRRR just use defrosted pre-made pie crust. I plan to try with puff pastry next. Should be tasty!

Filling: Dry chicken and add salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over moderately high heat, then brown chicken both sides 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 flavor bits. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes total. Check with a thermometer.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate. Reduce sauce in skillet to consistency of heavy cream. Discard chicken skin and bones and coarsely chop meat – let it cool a bit or you will burn your fingers. Or just burn your fingers, like I did.. Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves (they are poisonous or something J). Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes, or in the fridge if you are rushed. Watch the salt though, the chorizo may add some quietly.

Create the Empanadas: Preheat oven to 400°F. Form each into a disk – I made mine with a biscuit cutter and it might have been on the small side but not bad. Think about the size and meat to crust ratio you prefer. Roll out 1 piece of dough or pie crust on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin until about 1/8 inch thick.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons (or what fits your circle size) filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp (I attempted “decoratively” – failed) with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make more empanadas in same manner, arranging on parchment-lined baking sheets. Freeze any extra filling or pie crust or pre-baked empanadas.

Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash (egg and water whisked) and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.


2 thoughts on “Meat Pocket Short Story: Empanadas

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