I love pie. And I used to make my own pie crust, back when we lived in Massachusetts. Then we moved to Mexico. The flour was different, the butter was different, we were at a high altitude, and my pie crusts weren’t up to snuff.
BUT! Empanadas entered my culinary vocabulary. And my mouth. Half-moon shaped pastries with tender flaky crusts and fillings that ran from savory to sweet, basic to…complex. I fell in love.
We live in British Columbia now and pie crusts are a thing of the past. I now make apple pie filling-filled empanaditas (palm-sized empanadas) and no one in the family is complaining.
- Warning: I’m not a terribly precise baker or cook. If I’m making free-form dough circles, the sizes can run a gamut. The dough should be rolled or pinched to a thickness that will hold the ingredients in during baking. Also, I like to make savory fillings for the empanadas. Some ideas follow the recipe for the apple filling.
Here’s the dough recipe:
- 6 oz. Cream Cheese @ room temp.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter @ room temp.
- 2 c. Unbleached Flour
- 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
Mix the cream cheese and butter together until well blended. Add the flour and salt and mix gently (Never take out your frustrations on this kind of dough). Gently knead the dough, then form into a ball. Wrap well. Let dough sit for 15 minutes in a cool place.
Make balls, roll or press them into circles, fill the circles, run water along one edge, press together in the dumpling form. You can also use the tines of a fork on the edges. Place on a cooking sheet, brush an egg wash over the tops and bake at 375 degrees until the tops are golden brown (if I was a more precise person, I’d know how many minutes).
- The recipe for the dough comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cocina de la Familia by Marilyn Tausend with Miguel Ravago.
- I sometimes roll the dough into little balls, then press the balls into circles by hand. Other times I roll out the dough and use the rim of a glass to make the circles. My DIL recently introduced me to dumpling presses, and they work beautifully. Always run a bead of water around one-half of the inner lip before closing and pressing. And spread an egg wash over the top once you’ve placed the stuffed empanadas on a baking sheet.
- You can deep fry or bake (@ 375 degrees F) the empanadas. I personally prefer the baked version.
Here’s the Apple Pie Filling recipe. Note: I drain off the cooking liquid and spoon the filling into the circles of dough.
And here are some ideas for savory fillings:
- Tofu, diced onion, cilantro, grated cheese.
- Roasted or boiled Butternut squash, diced onions, garlic, cilantro, grated cheese, and a splash of tequila.
- Carrots + potatoes diced into tiny squares, grated cheese, fresh herbs (such as cilantro, parsley, or dill)
- Basically, anything can go into an empanada. Meats–cooked or roasted, with the excess oil or liquid drained off–then mixed with whatever’s in the fridge. Add cheese. Can’t go wrong with adding cheese.
I find empanadas a terrific way to use up leftovers. Enjoy!