Over the weekend my friend asked me to make empanadas. He told me about the ones his mom used to make and the ones he would by on the street while traveling in South America. He wasn’t exactly sure about the type of cheese that was used (I guessed), but he did have strong opinions on the type of dough. It seems that there are many different types. After discussing dough and looking at pictures of empanadas we found on the web, we settled on a recipe. I made the dough and cooked it in the deep fryer. I wasn’t…terrible, but it wasn’t right. The dough was very soft and not very flavorful. It also wasn’t as flakey as he remembered.
Instead of spending another hour on the web looking at photos, he called his mom for the recipe. Her recipe was: flour, water, salt, butter or oil and make the dough until it feels like pizza dough. That was her recipe! I love moms. My mom does the same thing. She’ll give me a list of ingredients without measurements and very little direction. I hope to frustrate Miles this way when he’s a grown up and cooking for his friends and family 🙂 Her recipe did actually help. I found one that used an egg and went with it. The dough was like pizza dough and it was flakey when I fried it. It was actually pretty good. I decided to use a queso fresco (I really wanted to use queso Chihuahua, but couldn’t find a small bag at the market). When I made the first empanada recipe, the cheese had almost no flavor. With this recipe, the cheese was more flavorful. It was mild and slightly sweet. They also puffed up nicely and were very flakey. It turns out that the empanadas my friend remembered eating years ago was filled with mozzarella and chopped green onion. What I love about empanadas is that you can add any filling you like. I’m so glad that I have another fried dish to add to my collection.
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 inch stick (1 ½cucold unsalted butter (cut into ½- cubes)
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- 8 oz . crumbled queso fresco
- vegetable or canola oil for frying
- granulated sugar for sprinkling
make the dough:
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
form the epanadas
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 18/ inch thick. Using a 4-inch circle cutter, cut out the dough into disks and place on a baking sheet. If you don’t have circle cutters, you can pinch small amounts of dough and roll them into a 4-inch disk.
Place some cheese towards the center of the disc.
Fold one side of the disc over, forming a half-moon. Pinch the edges together to close the empanadas and seal the contents inside.
To make the rope-like edge, grab the corner of the pinched dough in between your thumb and your index finger. Pull slightly and fold over onto itself. Repeat this process all along the rest of the edge of the empanada.
fry the empanadas:
In cast iron skillet or small frying pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Place an empanada with the folded side down, into the oil. Fry until the empanadas are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn over the empanada and fry the other side until golden brown. I would recommend cooking one empanada at a time. It’s a little time consuming, but it can be challenging cooking more than one at a time!
Remove the empanada from the oil it on a cooling rack over a baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of the empanada granulated sugar. Repeat with remaining empanadas.