America's Test Chicken consists of two separate chickens, each with her own take on this cooking thing. Check out Chicken One's related blog, A Travel for Taste where she shares travel stories and recipes collected whenever she ventures abroad. And give Chicken Two's new, also-related blog, Poop from the Coop a read. There you can find stories about her personal adventure re-experiencing the kitchen after many years away. Please join our Facebook group to share your own recipes, kitchen practices and know-how. We are also on Pinterest and Instagram.
The complete recipes appear at the end of this post.
From Chicken One:
I went old-school, as usual, and made fried empanadas, which are filled dough pockets. It seems every culture has fried pocket dough pie: England has pasties, we have Hot Pockets, etc.
I use a recipe from Rick Bayless' cookbook, Authentic Mexican. I love his approach, traveling around Mexico, gathering and testing regional recipes. Sound familiar?
This recipe is basically a flour tortilla recipe you can do in the food processor:
I filled my empanadas with picadillo (see the previous blog post), but you can fill it with almost anything else. See Chicken Two's apple filling.
I'm proud of my successful frying, which is something I don't do often. I found that a thermometer for the oil is the trick for me. Made frying practically foolproof.
This recipe makes about a dozen empanadas.
From Chicken Two:
I chose the sweet side of things. If you know my husband, you know why! The recipe for the dough is slightly different from Chicken One's dough with the addition of cinnamon and sugar.
Also, rather than fry them, I chose a recipe I found on line at Empanadas Ricas that called for baking.
Though the recipe calls for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar, I only used 1/4 and added the optional cinnamon. Also I used just 3 tablespoons of water to get the right consistency.
I admit, I didn't even try for the fancy rope edge but I will next time.
Empanadas de Picadillo Recipe
For the dough
3/4 pounds (about 3 cups) all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the dough
1/3 cup lard OR 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoons salt
About 3/4 cup very warm tap water
For filling and frying
1recipe Picadillo cooled to room temperature
Oil for deep frying, about 2 quarts, to a depth of 2 inches
- The dough. Measure the flour into a bowl, then thoroughly work in the fat. Dissolve the salt in the hot water, then work it into the flour mixture, making a medium-stiff dough. Knead just enough to bring the dough together and smooth. Don't overwork the dough.
- Resting. Divide the dough into 16 portions, roll each into a ball, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough easier to roll).
- Forming the empanadas. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of dough into a 5-inch diameter circle. Very lightly brush the perimeter with water, then scoop about 3 tablespoons of filling onto one side. Fold the uncovered side over the filling, expelling as much air as possible, then press the two edges firmly together. Lay the empanada on a baking sheet; continue forming turnovers with the remaining balls of dough. Firmly seal the empanadas by pressing the two edges together with the tines of a fork or by making the rope edge described below.
- The optional decorative rope edge. Hold an empanada in one hand; with the thumb and first finger of the other hand, pinch out a 1/2-inch section of the dough on the nearest end. flattening it so that it extends out 1/4-inch beyond the rest of edge. With your thumb, curl over the top half of the pinched-out section of dough (it should look like a wave braking), then gently press it down to secure it. Now, pinch out the next 1/2-inch section of dough, curl the top side over, and press it down. Continue until you reach the other end. Fold the last pinched-out section back on itself, finished the seal. Complete the rope edge on the remaining empanadas and return them to the baking sheet. The empanadas can be frozen at this point and held for several weeks.
- Frying the empanadas. About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry the empanadas 2 or 3 at a time, until deep golden, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven until all are fried. Serve at once.
Empanadas de Manzana (Apple Empanadas) Recipe
for the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 sticks of butter
2-4 tablespoons water
1/4 - 1/2 cup of sugar (depending on your taste)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder (optional)
1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon powder in a food processor.
2. Add eggs, butter and water and mix until a clumpy dough forms.
3. Remove from food processor and knead by hand on a floured surface until the dough comes together.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic or put in a covered bowl and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
5. Prepare apple filling.
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
7. Cut the dough in 20 - 25 even pieces and roll them into a ball.
8. Flatten balls on a floured surface into 5 inch disks, about 1/8 in thickness.
9. Put about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center and fold over the disk, enclosing the filling.
10. Press edges together to seal and crimp the edges using the method described by Chicken One or use a fork.
11. Beat 1 egg with a tablespoon of water and brush the empanadas before baking.
12. Bake for 15 - 20 minutes until golden. The exact time depends on the size of your empanadas. Serve warm.