Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Accidental Empanada

When trying to make a batch of beignets, my husband and I accidentally discovered a great recipe for empanadas. Let me explain...the dough for the beignets didn't puff, wasn't sweet, and fried up slightly puffed, but it wasn't winnning any prizes. After frying the second batch (of 5 small batches), my huband was ready to toss the remaining dough in the garbage. Since we had some roasted chicken in the fridge that was leftover and needed to be used, I asked if he'd mind if I tried a little experiment.

I shredded up a little chicken, rolled the dough even thinner and stuffed it with chicken. I tried 3 with simple, leftover roasted chicken and I knew we were on to something. Though the filling was a little dry, we were inspired. My husband marched back into the kitchen with me hot on his heels, he asked me to get out the shredded cheese and leftover ground turkey (from our enchilada night a few days ago) and he started rolling out the beignet circles and brushing them with butter.

I just jumped in and started filling and sealing them and a recipe was born. We had found the perfect dough for empanadas, which are a huge favorite of mine, but few restaurants in the area make them well or offer them at all. This is my new go-to treat, the dough is tender and flaky, the filling was full of flavor and the cheese made everything bind together beautifully. The butter didn't hold as well as hoped, but a simple egg wash did the trick beautifully and we finally had the empanadas I've always dreamed of, flaky, tender, delicious....and now, with my favorite taco filling (browned ground turkey and veggies) with melted, gooey cheese.

Here is the recipe:

2 C. self rising flour ($.50)
1 T. sugar ($.05)
1 T. shortening ($.20)
1/2 C. warm water (free)

1 egg white, whisked with 1 tsp water ($.10)
Frying oil


1/2 C. roasted chicken, browned ground beef or turkey, leftover taco filling, or shredded pork ($.25)
1/2 C. shredded cheese, any Mexican or cheddar blend - I used munster and colby jack ($.25)

Combine the sugar and water til sugar is dissolved.
Cut shortening into the flour, then combine the water with the flour, working until a soft dough starts to form.
Roll out on floured surface and roll dough to 1/4" thickness.

Use your smallest biscuit cutter (2" size) and cut out 20-24 circles. Dust the circles again with flour and roll out to roughly double their original size.

Brush edges with egg wash and fill with 1 1/2 tsp. each cheese and meat filling of your choice. Seal edges with a fork, pressing firmly to seal.

Fry in 1" oil at 325F in a medium sized pan, frying 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels before serving.
Serve with salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.

Yields: 20-24 mini empanadas
Cost: $1.40
Cost per empanada: $.07

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