Empanadas are a latin caribbean pastry shell turnover. The filling can be sweet or savory and the shell is buttery, but still flaky.
These pockets of goodness are so intriguing. At first glance I imagined them somewhere in the middle of a samosa and a calzone. Upon tasting them, it triggered a memory of a flaky meat pie. In the end, the taste and texture is completely its own.
With the buttery flaky pastry like shell, a sweet filling would be absolutely divine.
For our first batch of empanadas we went with spinach, feta, cottage cheese and chicken.
I’m totally hooked. The list of combinations is already building in my head, and the hardest decision at the moment is deciding to go with sweet or savory.
Making any dough always leaves me a little perplexed since I haven’t worked with it too much. The buttery flaky texture had me worried, it didn’t seem like it would come together. Once chilled and rolled out in some flour, that texture stayed, right through till the end when you bite into a warm, flaky, buttery pastry shell.
The Dough (adapted from Epicurious)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup Cold Water
1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
In a large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Rub butter pieces together with flour and salt (using your fingertips) until mixture resembles coarse meal with pea size butter lumps.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg, water and vinegar with a fork. Add to flour mixture stirring until just incorporated.
Turn mixture onto lightly floured surface and gather together. Knead gently, just enough to bring dough together with the heel of your hand. Form into a flat rectangle, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
The Filling (Inspired by Honest Fare)
1 bag Spinach
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 chicken breasts, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp red chile flakes
1/2 cup cottage cheese, drained
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tbsp olive oil
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Saute onion and garlic for a few minutes until onions are translucent and garlic is browned. Add chicken and chili flakes. Cover and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes or until cooked. Add spinach with a touch of water. Cover and let steam until the spinach turns bright green and wilts down. Drain as much liquid as you can. Add cottage cheese, feta cheese and 1 Egg. Mix together.
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and remove plastic wrap. Place dough on a lightly floured surface, cut into 8 medium size pieces (or 12 small or 6 large). Flouring the counter and rolling pin so the dough does not stick, roll out pieces one at a time until about 5 inches in diameter and 1/8inch in thickness.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp water with 1 Egg to create an egg wash.
Place about 2 tbsp of filling into middle of each empanada. Fold into a semi-circle. Along the edge, fold bottom dough over top dough and press down with a fork. Repeat with each empanada and place on prepared baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush each empanada with egg wash, flip over gently (so you don’t break the seal) and brush again with egg wash.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until empanadas have puffed up, are lightly golden and crispy.
Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm.