How To Make Perfect Cheese Empanadas – Recipe | Food
Elisabeth lambert ortiz claimed that you could write a little book about empanadas, empanaditas, pastels, pastelitos, empadinhas and pastèzinhos … Namely, “those delicious turnovers, patties and pies, stuffed with meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and other mixes, and baked or fried, which are so popular throughout Latin America”. This is the variety on offer, in fact I would say it would probably be a pretty big book. As a writer Notes by Naomi Tomky, maybe a little nostalgic, on Serious Eats, “it would take a lifetime of eating empanadas nonstop to try all the endless combinations of pasta, toppings and cooking methods that are so closely tied to the culture, the specific flora and fauna in each region of Latin America ”.
It’s a challenge I would happily take on, but the Guardian refused to extend my deadline, so I chose to focus on the simple, cheese-stuffed kind that can be found almost everywhere. Even so, the range is such from country to country that (as always) the following should be considered more of an introductory guide than a definitive recipe. Portable, inexpensive and endlessly versatile, easy to prepare vegan, gluten-free, and even (relatively) healthy, empanadas are sure to be the quintessential democratic party food. Well… after the chips, anyway.
In general, wheat-based pastries are more popular in the southern end of Latin America, with corn becoming more common in Colombia and Venuezela, and starchy cassava pastries appearing in Central America and the Caribbean. I try several versions of wheat made from lard or butter: some with baking powders like baking powder and sparkling water (see Ecuadorian blogger Layla Pujol), other breaded and crispy ones (Pilar Hernandez’s Chilean cook, and others like the small short and crumbly Brazilian pies by Lambert Ortiz. All do the job well, hold together while baking, despite my amateur crimping, but my head is especially turned by the distinctive texture and flavor of Denver blogger Christa Jimenez’s Costa Rican version using ground corn, which comes out of the fryer deeply golden and deliciously crispy.
To do so, however, you will need masarepa – that is, cooked, dehydrated and ground corn, as opposed to fine cornmeal or corn flour. This is easily available online, or anywhere with a large Latin American community, but I also gave a recipe using wheat flour below, incorporating lard and apple cider vinegar that the writer Gaby Melian uses in his Bon Appetit recipe to ensure a maximum of flakes (Pujol replaces this orange juice), but omitting the sugar that some put in it. If you prefer to keep them vegetarian, use butter instead.
Note that while the baking isn’t much simpler than the corn recipe, it is trickier to work with unless you’re used to it (I tend to end up molding it around the filling like cookie dough. model); the wheat version is much more forgiving.
As Jimenez explains, the Costa Rican cottage cheese used locally for empanadas “is literally only found in Costa Rica (as far as I know!)”. The same goes for most of the recipes I try, Hernandez calling for chanco queso de fundo, “A ripe cheese with a milky taste”, and others evoking fresh and farmhouse cheeses that are difficult to find outside their production area. Fortunately, everyone is generous with their suggestions for substitutes, with mozzarella, havaarti, monterey jack, and ricotta among the most readily available examples in this country. I also try the halloumi (the Costa Rican cottage cheese is apparently squeaky), the creamy stracchino, the crumbly ricotta salata and the anari, a soft and milky sheep or goat cheese from Cyprus.
Frankly they are all welcome in my mouth, but if you use something low in fat like Lambert Ortiz’s ricotta, I would add an egg yolk, like she does, to give it a creamier texture, while drier cheeses like ricotta salata need a little textural help in the melting department. Pujol concedes that “really, the combinations for cheese empanadas are endless, but I recommend using a mixture of a melted cheese with a tasty but less melted cheese.” With that in mind, I went for a mix of firm mozzarella and salty halloumi, but mozzarella, crumbly lancashire, or even feta would work – experiment with what works for you (Cocina Cuca, West London pop-up raclette tips, and there are probably plenty of great plant-based alternatives out there that I’m not qualified to recommend).
Melian tosses the mozzarella into the cornmeal, saying that “it will keep the mozzarella from liquefying while the empanadas are cooking.” I like the way it leaves the inside of the shell a bit damp and mushy, but if you prefer maximum crunch, add a little to the cheese mixture after grating.
Onion is a common addition – I prefer it sautéed first, like Melian does, rather than used raw, like in Pujol’s recipe, but the best for me are Lambert Ortiz’s spring onions, which add a fresh and green note (and, as a bonus, does not require pre-cooking). Melian also includes grated ham which is of course very nice, although it cuts down on the cheese a bit when for me it deserves to be the star.
Melian seasoned it with dried oregano, while Pujol gives another recipe based on grilled poblano peppers, which is definitely worth a try, if you come across them. But if you’d like a little spice, I imagine pickled jalapeños or smoked chipotle paste would be welcome as well (you can serve with hot sauce as well).
Pujol sprinkles his freshly fried empanadas with sugar, say that the contrast between the salty cheese is “something quintessentially Ecuadorian”. I’m sorry to say I struggled with the raw onion and sugar combination, but if you’re more open-minded, she assures readers it’s delicious.
Shaping and cooking
While they are very easy to make (as long as you keep the corn dough moist and the wheat dough cold), the hard part is making sure the empanadas are completely sealed to minimize the escape routes for the processed cheese. . I say minimize, because if you can manage to produce a leak-free batch, you should probably go for professional production. (Consolation prize: the crispy puddles on the baking sheet are almost the best, as far as I’m concerned.)
I can’t deny that I love the fried empanadas that I try – so crispy and flaky and, yes, very slightly oily – but for a party it is more convenient to cook them, so you are not on your feet. above the fryer in your cheerful rags. If the appearance is less important, fry them (carefully) in a pan full of neutral oil a third of them at about 180 ° C, until golden brown. Either way, serve immediately, before the cheese cools and solidifies, with salsa or chili sauce and plenty of napkins.
Preparation 30 min + rest
cook 25 minutes
For the pastry
285g of masarepa (corn flour for the arepas)
½ teaspoon of fine salt
500 ml of lukewarm water
Oil, vegetable milk or beaten eggbrush
55g lard, butter or vegan cooking block
240 ml of water
1 tablespoon of fairly neutral vinegar (for example, cider, white wine, rice)
½ teaspoon of fine salt
400g plain flour, more dustproof
Oil, beaten egg or milkbrush
300g firm-cooked mozzarella, grated
100g halloumi, crumbly lancashire, feta etc.
4 new onions, trimmed, both white and green parts finely chopped (optional)
If you are making corn dough, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, then whisk the water until you get a moist but not runny dough (add more water if it cracks) and let sit for 15 minutes.
If you are making a flour dough, melt the fat, then add the water and vinegar and pour into a large bowl. Gradually mix the salt and the flour (remember that the liquid will be hot), then turn over to a floured surface and knead until you get a smooth, soft but not sticky dough. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, until cold.
Handling the dough with wet hands at all times, divide the corn dough into large golf balls and cover all but one with a damp kitchen towel.
Use a tortilla press or cover a board with cling film, place a ball on it, cover with another sheet of cling film, then put a board or a glass bowl with a flat bottom on it and press until you get a thin circle. paste.
If you are using wheat dough, divide it into balls the size of a large golf ball and, on a floured surface, form spheres. Cover with a damp kitchen towel while you prepare the first empanada by spreading it out or flattening it into a thin circle.
Mix the cheeses, scallion and salt, then put a big tablespoon in the middle of the dough circle (you want to fill it generously, but not so much it’s going to be hard to close), then bring the edges together and pinch to seal ( a little water can help).
Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Once all the empanadas are shaped and on the pan, put in the fridge to cool while you heat the oven to 200C (180C fan) / 390F / gas 6. Brush the pastries with beaten egg or oil, bake in oven for 25 minutes, until golden brown, and serve immediately.
Empanadas – wheat, corn or yucca? And baked or fried? What is your favorite garnish and what do you serve with it?