One of the classic examples of Mexican pastry is the empanada. Empanada is a half-moon shaped pastry, traditionally filled with sweet ingredients. But now-a-days these are also filled with savory fillings. The savory empanadas are gaining more popularity than their sweet counterparts. Savory empanadas may be filled with red meat or poultry meat or with only vegetables. These crispy and delicious pastries are very popular in Mexico and are normally eaten as snacks.
Difficulty level: Easy
Yields per recipe: 6-7
Time required for preparation: 2-3 hours
Time required for cooking: 10-15 minutes
Appliances For Mexican Pastry
2 large bowls
1 pizza cutter
1 rolling pin
1 spider strainer
1 wire whisk
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of boiling water
1 egg, at room temperature
3-4 teaspoons of vegetable shortening or lard
A pinch of salt
For the Filling
2/3rd cup of cooked and shredded chicken
1 small can of green chilies
1-2 large egg yolks, well beaten
½ cup of chopped onions
1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded and chopped
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ cup of deseeded and diced green bell peppers
½ cup of peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon of chili powder
½ cup of grated cheddar cheese
Salt, to taste
Method of Cooking
1. Take a large bowl and a sifter. Place the sifter on the bowl and put the flour in in the sifter. Shake the sifter gently to sift the flour into the bowl. Once sifted, add the salt to the sifted flour and mix together with a spoon. Next, take another large bowl and crack open one egg to transfer its content to the bowl.
Whisk the egg thoroughly until the egg white and the egg yolk mixes with each other. Next, whisk in the boiling water to combine with the egg. Then cut the shortening into the flour mixture and stir to combine until the flour becomes moist.
2. Once done, make a small well in the flour and pour the liquid ingredients mixture into the well. Beat the mixture with a wire whisk to combine the solid ingredients with the liquid ingredients. Beat the mixture until you get soft and firm dough. Next, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it until it becomes soft and less sticky. Once done, cover the dough with a plastic cling film and pop it into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
3. While the dough is resting, prepare the other things for the pastry. For that, chop the onions, jalapeño pepper, green bell pepper and the peeled tomatoes. Transfer the chopped vegetables to a bowl and set aside. Next, take the cooked chicken and shred it with two forks or with your fingers.
To shred the chicken with two forks, hold the chicken with one fork and pull with the other. Next, take a skillet and grease it with 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Place the skillet on the stove and light up the flame. Adjust and set the flame on medium high and then put the chicken into the skillet.
4. Fry the chicken until it turns slightly golden in color. Once that happens, add all the chopped vegetables to the chicken and then add the ground cumin and the chili powder. Then season the mixture with salt and then stir to combine everything nicely. Sauté the mixture for 5-6 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked through.
Once you are done sautéing the vegetables, transfer them to a bowl and let them cool down. While the chicken and the vegetables are cooling down, take out the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface.
5. Knead the dough once more and then roll it out into a flat pastry. Then using a pizza cutter or cookie cutter, cut out 2-3 inch sized circles to make the pastries. Next, take a bowl and whisk one egg in it. Then using a kitchen brush, coat all the pastries with the egg wash.
Once done, get rid of the excess dough and put 1 tablespoon of the chicken and vegetable filling on each pastry circle. Sprinkle some grated cheese on top of the chicken and vegetable mixture to complete the filling. Put the filling on one side of the circles so that you can fold the other halves over the filling.
6. Once all the pastries are filled, pull up the empty half of one of the pastry and fold that over the filling. Press the edges tightly to seal them together and then crimp the edges with a fork. Prepare all the other pastries in the same way and then keep them aside. Next, fill up a skillet with 3-4 cups of cooking oil and place that over the stove. Light the flame and set it on high.
7. Once the oil heats up, add some of the pastries and fry them until they turn golden brown on both sides. You may fry the pastries in batches, but do not over-crowd the skillet. Once the first batch of pastries are fried, spoon them out with a spider strainer and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to soak up the excess oil. Fry the remaining pastries and then serve warm.