Can I Make Empanadas? & Cleaning Out Your Fridge
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
Empanadas are baked or fried turnovers made of dough/pastry outside and inside filling; it is common in Latin American and Filipino cultures. There are numerous variations: they can have meat or veggie or cheese filling; there are even sweet ones. Basically, you can put anything inside. :)
It's pretty interesting; empanadas are similar to other foods from all over the world: pasty (England), samosa (India), piroshki (Russia), hand pie (Jamaica), and picadillos (Cuba). For a lot of things, food around the world is similar with variations. Dumplings are another good example. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empanada
Empanadas came to mind for a few reasons:
1.) My friend told me that a place I liked to go to was closing & one of my go-to orders there was spinach & mushroom empanadas (one of the few places I ate a veggie dish. Haha. :) )
2.) I saw a Tasty video on YouTube about how Nonna's makes empanadas.
Fun fact: They have a big conveyor belt machine in their kitchen which takes 3 people to operate and can produce 1,700 empanadas in 1 hour!
3.) I was trying to figure out different ways to use ground beef and the bell peppers and onions I had made the other day (as noted in my other posts).
- Ground Beef:
- Bell Pepper & Onions:
I decided to try to make my own empanada dough and used this recipe I found on the Food Network app as a basis.
Friday, November 1, 2019: Attempt #1:
There are 2 parts to empanadas dough/pastry outside and inside filling.
Making the Dough
The ingredients for this empanada dough are pretty simple: flour, shortening, egg, chicken stock, a little sugar and salt.
I made a half-recipe of the link above with a few adjustments. For a half recipe, it would be be 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup (or 4 tablespoons) of shortening, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 egg, 3/8 cup of chicken stock, pinch of salt.
I wanted to use less shortening to try to decrease calories, so I tried 3 tablespoons instead of 4. I used 1 whole egg (should have used 1/2 egg) and I used a little bit more flour (1 3/4 cup) than calculated -- I'll tell you why in a second. I also didn't have any chicken stock, so I just used water.
In the end, the ingredients I used are:
- 1 3/4 cups of flour
- 3 tablespoons of shortening
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 1 egg
- 3/8 cup of water
- pinch of salt
I blended the flour, shortening, sugar, pinch of salt together with electric mixer. You mix the wet ingredients (egg with water or chicken stock) in a separate bowl and then mix it all together.
I noticed that the dough was really wet (photo #3) and didn't seem like I would be able to mold it, so I added some more flour -- that's why I used 1 3/4 cup -- (photo #4, most right). I think it's because I used 1 whole egg, instead of 1/2 egg. That's another tip while you are cooking. If you notice something doesn't look right, make some adjustments. :)
I put the dough in the fridge for 30 min. as in the recipe. While it was in the fridge, I made the fillings which only took 7-10 minutes total to make 2 different fillings.
Making the Filling
As I mentioned, you can put anything in an empanada. This is where the cleaning out the fridge came in. :) I made 2 different fillings in ~7-10 minutes.
Ground Beef, Bell Pepper and Onions
I used some ground beef (1/2 patty I had leftover from making a cheeseburger the other day), bell pepper and onions to make 1 filling. I just cooked the ground beef in a pan and added the bell pepper/onions to warm them up.
Spinach, Caramelized Onions, and Cream Cheese
In the other one, I put microwaved frozen spinach, caramelized onions (I had left over from making bacon jam), and 2 tablespoons of cream cheese all together. I actually used the cream cheese from the pumpkin-shaped cheeseball I made. :) Check it out. Also, reusing ingredients for different posts like I mentioned before (see post).
First, I microwaved the spinach in a separate dish (1 1/2 or 2 minutes). Unlike my recommendation for using microwave frozen spinach in dishes (see post), I did not pat it dry with a paper towel. In this recipe, I didn't think the additional moisture that comes with using frozen veggies mattered because I was making a filling and nothing could get soggy. Then I put the spinach in with the onions and cream cheese all together and microwaved it together for 45 or 60 seconds. That's it!
How professional does that look? :) I used the little ramekins I got to make 3-ingredient crème brûlée.
Assembling the Empanadas
After 30 min. in the fridge, I took out the dough and rolled it thinner to about ~1/4" like in the recipe and cut out the round pieces. I used a hack I came up with: my stove with cardboard box as a workspace. :) (see post). I used these round cookie cutters I got to make aquarium/shakashaka cookies.
I made a half-recipe and I got 8 good size empanadas out of it (instead of 3 or 4 as would have been expected.)
To seal the empanadas, you have to make an egg wash (which is 1 egg and a tablespoon of water).
Before I put in the filling, I pressed all around on the dough to make it a little thinner -- to make sure the dough cooked all the way through.
I put a spoonful of filling on half of the empanada, brushed some egg wash all around the edge of the circle, folded it in half, then used a fork to crimp the edges (fancy. :) )
I am slow(!) at making empanadas. :) I noticed that the dough was getting a little warm as I was assembling them, so I kept the rest of the dough in the fridge while I was making one to make sure it would be easy to put together.
Empanadas can be baked or fried. I tried both ways.
I just used a sauce pan/small pot I have and put some oil at medium-high / high. I flipped them once they were golden brown (~2-3 minutes). Tip: When you are frying things, don't put too many things in there because it lowers the temperature of the oil and will make things soggy instead of crisp. Since this saucepan wasn't that big, I could only fit one at a time, so that wasn't a problem here.
I put 4 in the oven at 400 degrees and it took ~25 minutes.
RESULT: Success! :)
We are good at this! Looks good and tasted great!
Next time, I will only use 1/2 egg in the dough (and use the other 1/2 egg for egg wash) and I may be able to use only 1 1/2 cups of flour then -- instead of the 1 3/4 cup I used.
Give it a try! It's fun and not that hard. If you don't want to make the dough, I think you could use Pillsbury dough or something like that. Your fillings are cooked already; you're just cooking the dough. If you have some cold cuts or something around; you could just microwave them for a bit and add some cheese / veggies and put them in.
In the recipe, they served it with an adobe aioli/mayo. I didn't have any mayo or adobe sauce. I just made a similar variation with what I had on hand: a little sour cream and Old El Paso Taco seasoning mixed together. :)