Oh empanadas, I so wish you were pretty. You are just so beige.
But you deserve so much more! I want you to be as fantastic on the outside as you are on the inside! I know it’s the inside that counts, but still, it doesn’t seem fair…sigh.
I made these for the first time at least six months ago, and they really are some of the most delicious things I have ever made, but I have been hesitant to share them with you because they really aren’t very pretty. Mostly my fault, as crimping empanada dough is apparently my kryptonite and they just end up looking so haggard all the time, but also because their natural hue is kind of yellowish and the lighting in my house does them no favors. Same could be said for banana bread, which I can not manage to get a good picture of…working on it.
The recipe is initially from Gourmet, but I discovered it on Smitten Kitchen. She made these back in 2007 and at the time said they were one of the best things she ever made, which I figured was saying a lot. They did not disappoint. Empanadas are Spanish, and the guess is that they were an adaptation of the samosas brought to Spain by the Moors. They then made their way to South America, and that seems to be now where they are most enjoyed. They can be filled with anything, but often they include olives and raisins, which are a interesting and delicious combo of sweet and salty. These have olives and raisins, as well as chicken and chorizo and a lot of onions.
The chicken gets browned and then finished in with the rest of the filling which gets quite saucy. The chicken gets shredded and the finished filling is a delight.
My issues come with the forming of the empanadas…I can not get them to look good. Crimping dough is the worst and I just can’t do it so they look pretty. It’s annoying. The dough itself is great, butter, flour, eggs and vinegar. I, taking Deb’s advice, sub in some whole wheat flour and have really liked the results.
There’s really not much else to say about these other than they are just SO good. They freeze well after baking, and they are good room temperature, but better warm. They are great for parties, or watching games, or bringing in for lunches or pretty much any time. They do take some time to make and put together, but they are so worth it. Make them. Make them now, or as soon as you have a couple of hours. Seriously. You will be very popular.
Some thoughts for a Sunday:
1. ARNOLD! What. The. Hell? You know what I would be angriest about? Not that it happened in the first place (though, also, yes, potential future husband, I WILL be mad if it happens in the first place) but that he supported the kid for MORE THAN TEN YEARS without telling her, and then, AND THEN, only when it would no longer hurt his political career did he mention it. Ultimate worst husband ever.
2. Watching The Social Network. Armie Hammer is cuuuuute.
3. Trying to trade out my summer and winter clothes even though it’s May and it’s 50 degrees. Why do I live in Boston?
4. I finished Freedom. I liked The Corrections better.
5. Did I mention the headwear when I was discussing my desire to be British? Because that’s really the best part. The hats and the polo. I need hats to be a thing here, and pronto.
6. I’ve never had a banh mi sandwich and I would like to change that…there might be a lunch adventure in my future, I’ll have a do some research and find out where to get a good one.
7. I need a visit to San Francisco stat. It has been way too long. Being there recharges my batteries.
Empanadas with Chicken and Chorizo (makes 2 dozen)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Gourmet
4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (sub in 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour if you’d like)
3 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tbls distilled white vinegar
3 whole chicken legs, including thighs (2 to 2 1/4 pounds total)
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
4 1/2 tbl olive oil
2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
1/3 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded if desired)
1/2 tsp Spanish smoked paprika (not hot)
1/4 cup chopped pitted green olives
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
One egg, beaten
1 tbl water
Make 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 two flat rectangles and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.
Make Filling: Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 6 minutes total, and transfer to a plate. Sauté onions, garlic, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add olives, raisins, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 to 30 minutes total.
Transfer chicken to a clean plate. (Sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it’s not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.) When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely chop meat. Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes.
Fill and Bake: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide the dough into two dozen equal pieces. Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick).
Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make the remaining empanadas the same way, arranging on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.