I absolutely love that time of the month when we feature something for the Kulinarya Cooking Club. From a small group of three we are now around 14 and counting! It is just amazing how many bloggers there are who are just as passionate about promoting Filipino food as we are. In fact, I am so happy that we even have an “adopted” member (she isn’t Filipino but she can’t absolutely cook like one!).
This month we feature the empanada – those little filled pastries which originated in Spain. The Philippines, being colonized by the Spaniards for over three hundred years, has embraced the empanada and have made these little turnovers their own.
The first time I blogged about the empanada I strayed away from the “normal” empanadas that I grew up with and made one using flaky pastry. While it was delicious, it was a bit more time consuming (it requires making two types of dough and deep frying).
This month I decided to concentrate my energy instead on making a much simpler dough. Something that didn’t require deep frying, was easy to roll out and was virtually fool proof. Of course it also had to be delicious!
I tried three variations of the empanada dough before I came up with THE ONE. The first dough I used lard which made the dough easy to roll out but was a lacking in flavour. The next dough I used butter which resulted in a delicious pastry but not very flaky. The result of a look at my pastry books was a suggestion to add vinegar to the dough. The vinegar (or acid like lemon juice) inhibits the development of gluten resulting in a more tender and flaky dough.
So for this recipe I used butter instead of lard to make sure the pastry would have that lovely buttery taste and added some vinegar so that the pastry would be tender and flaky. The addition of salt and sugar (yes sugar!) adds flavour to the dough… and the result? Maybe not everyone’s idea of a perfect empanada dough but this is the one I’m sticking with!
For the filling, I used one of my very favourite empanada fillings – chicken, chorizo, mushrooms, carrots and a creamy béchamel sauce. In the Philippines, this filling is called “pastel de pollo” or chicken pie.
The instructions seem long but I have detailed it as much as possible – no need to be scared. This is one of the easiest doughs to work with and the filling is easy to make. The filling actually makes more than you will need but it can be frozen and used for another time (it is even delicious on toast!), otherwise, triple the quantity of dough to use up the filling. The empanadas, once filled can be stored in the freezer served for future use (just make sure to bake them around 15 minutes longer).
The end result? A portable chicken pot pie – Filipino style!
For the pastry
- 220 grams plain flour
- 100 grams cold butter, diced
- 2 teaspoons vinegar
- 3 tablespoons ice cold water
- 1 teaspoon sugar ** thanks for pointing out the error – this should be sugar!
- Pinch of salt
- 1 egg for the dough
- 1 egg for egg wash
Special Equipment – food processor, cookie cutter or glass, with a rim 5 cm wide
- Place the flour, butter, salt, sugar and vinegar in a food processor and pulse until the dough resembles fine crumbs.
- Add the egg and continue to pulse.
- Add the water, a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to look clumpy. Stop adding the water when you can pinch off some dough and it manages to come together. Don’t blend the pastry too much. Stop just before it seems like it is coming together like a ball on the blender blades.
- Place the dough in a lightly floured work bench and knead the dough one or two times just until you can form a disc with the dough. Pat it down until it is around 1 cm high.
- Wrap in cling wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours to overnight.
- When the dough is ready, roll it out on a floured work surface until it is around ½ cm thick.
- Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut the dough. I also used a rolling pin to lengthen the dough slightly.
- Place the cut dough on the palm of your hand and a spoonful of filling (see below). Fold the dough over like a half moon to enclose the filling.
- Press the dough to seal and crimp the edges with your fingers or use a fork to make indents on the dough.
- Place the filled empanadas on a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg and using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the empanadas.
- With the leftover scraps, shape them into a disc and roll out as above.
- Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator as you pre-heat the oven to 180c (fan forced)
- When the over is ready, bake the empanadas for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- When making the dough, make sure to use ice cold water and ensure that the butter is cold when using it.
- Handle the dough as little as possible.
- Make sure the let the dough rest before rolling it out. This allows the gluten in the dough to rest so when it is rolled out, it does not “bounce” back.
- The scraps after the first roll can be used to make more dough. Form the dough into a disc and roll out as per instructions above.
Chicken and Chorizo Filling
- 50 grams butter
- Olive oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 1 chorizo (around 125 grams), diced
- 80 grams mushrooms, diced
- ½ cup white wine
- 50 grams flour
- 2 chicken marylands, boiled, skin removed, chopped ** see note
- 1 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the butter and some olive oil together. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until translucent, around 4 minutes.
- Add the carrots and saute until soft, another 5 minutes.
- Add the chorizo and the mushrooms and cook for around 5 minutes. Making sure to stir constantly.
- Add the white wine and allow to evaporate until ½ of the liquid is left.
- Add the flour and cook it out for around 3 minutes, making sure to stir constantly so that the flour doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot and burn
- Add the chicken now. Note: If you prefer, if the chicken hasn’t already been boiled, you can add the raw chopped chicken after step three (after the chorizo)
- Add the milk, a little at a time until well incorporated and the sauce is thick. Mix constantly to ensure the milk doesn’t catch and burn at the bottom of the pot.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Don’t forget! For more empanada goodness – check out my Kulinarya page to find out who are members are!