Empanadas with a flaky chili-spiked pastry folded over a rich flavorful filling of chorizo sausage, peppers, onions, garlic, black beans, and potatoes, and topped with avocado cream.
Empanadas, like soups and casseroles, fall into a category of food that offer endless freedom and possibilities. There are no rules. Recipes for empanadas should be treated as guidelines and suggestions, with filling ingredients swapped in and out based on what you have, what’s in season, and what you like.
Empanadas probably originated in Spain, but you’ll find versions of them all over the world.
In Argentina, they are most often made as appetizer or take-away food and include an endless variety of fillings. In Belize they are generally deep fried, the pastry is made with masa, and they are topped with cabbage or salsa.
In Chile, where empanadas are considered the most symbolic food of the country, they are traditionally filled with a filling called “Pino”, a mixture of ground beef, onions, raisins, olives and eggs. Colombian empanadas resemble arepas, and are often include meat and potatoes. You’ll even find empanadas in Sicily, where they are filled with almonds, walnuts, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and minced beef.
And, on and on and on. Varieties of empanadas can be found in pretty much every area of the world. In the US, you’re most likely to find empanadas filled with the flavors of South America. But here’s the bottom line: you can put anything you want in there.
These empanadas are filled with chorizo, peppers, potatoes and black beans because that's what sounded good to me.
It's also what I had on hand. Full disclosure: This recipe is more a result of my leftovers than deliberate planning. The day I made these, I was looking for a way to use up a hunk of chorizo and some black beans left over from soup I'd made a couple of days prior. I also had some peppers in the vegetable drawer that were nearing the edge of their shelf life and a few avocados that were right on the edge of being perfectly ripe and overly so.
So, these empanadas are the happy result of not wanting all those delicious ingredients to go to waste. And that is exactly my point about why empanadas are the bomb. If you want to follow this recipe exactly, go for it. They were really, truly delicious. The combination of flavors, textures, and spices is one I'll use again.
But, don't be afraid to use whatever you have on hand in place of pretty much any ingredient in here. The only thing you must be cautious of when making empanadas is how wet the filling is. You're looking for a filling that contains some moisture, so as not to be overly dry. But, if your filling is too wet, you'll end up with a soggy crust.
FOR THE EMPANADA DOUGH:
- 4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chipotle or ancho chili powder
- 12 tablespoon cold butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup tequila
- ½ cup ice water
- 5 tablespoon olive oil (for baking)
FOR THE EMPANADA FILLING:
- 2 poblano peppers
- ¾ lb. Yukon gold potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 oz. chorizo sausage
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 red peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 ½ tablespoon finely diced garlic
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, seeded and diced
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon chipotle or ancho chili powder
- 1 cup cooked or canned black beans
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice from 1 large lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE AVOCADO CREAM:
- 2 ripe Haas avocados
- 1 cup sour cream
- Juice from 2 large limes
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- A dash or two of your favorite hot sauce, to taste
- Salt, to taste
MAKE THE EMPANADA DOUGH:
- Add 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and chili powder to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse a few times just to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles course meal, about five 1-second pulses. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and pulse 3-4 times just to incorporate.
- Dump the mixture into a large bowl. Drizzle tequila and water over the dough. Mix the dough with your hands just until it's a sticky mass that holds together. If the dough is too dry to hold together, sprinkle in additional ice water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
- Divide the dough in half and then divide each half into 6 equal pieces. Place all 12 pieces of dough onto a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.
MAKE THE EMPANADA FILLING:
- Adjust a rack in your oven to the top position and preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay the poblano peppers on the baking sheet and broil until the side facing up is blackened and blistering. Use tongs to flip the peppers over to blacken the skin all the way around. When blacked all over, remove the peppers from the oven, place in a bowl, cover the bowl with a towel, and let sit until cool enough to handle.
- Fill a medium size saucepan with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil. Peel the potatoes and chop them into ¼ - ½ inch cubes. Dump them into the boiling water and cook just until they can be pierced with a fork, about 5 - 7 minutes. Pour the potatoes into a colander to drain and then dump them into a bowl of cold water to stop their cooking. Drain again and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Crumble the chorizo into small pieces and add to the hot oil. Sauté until cooked through. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the diced onions and red peppers to the pan. Sauté until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add the garlic, diced chipotle pepper, and spices. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
- Dump the vegetable mixture into a large bowl. Add the chorizo, potatoes, beans, cilantro, and lime juice.
- Peel the blackened skin from the poblano peppers. Remove the seeds, dice the flesh and add to the empanada filling.
- Stir to combine all the filling ingredients. Taste the filling and add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the filling to cool completely before assembling the empanadas. Place in the refrigerator to cool the mixture down faster. The filling can also be prepared 2 days in advanced and kept covered in the refrigerator.
ASSEMBLE THE EMPANADAS:
- To bake all 12 empanadas at once, adjust the racks in your oven to upper middle and lower middle. To bake 6 empanadas at a time, adjust a rack to the center position of your oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. (I generally bake them 6 at a time, preparing the second 6 while the first 6 are baking.)
- Prepare two baking sheets by brushing each with 2 tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. For each empanada, roll out a pice of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 6-inch circle that's about ⅛-inch thick. Place a heaping ⅓ cup filling in the center of the dough. Brush the edges of the dough with a bit of water and fold the dough over the filling. Press the edges with your fingers to seal and then crimp the edges of the dough with a fork.
- Depending on whether you're baking all 12 empanadas at once or just 6 at a time, place both baking sheets or just one of the baking sheets in the oven for 2 minutes to heat the oil. Brush the empanadas with the remaining oil. Remove the heated baking sheet(s) from the oven. Using a spatula, carefully place the empanadas on the baking sheet(s), 6 empanadas per sheet.
- Bake empanadas until well browned and crisp, about 25-30 minutes. If baking two sheets at a time, switch the placement of the baking sheets halfway through baking.
- Cool empanadas on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.
MAKE THE AVOCADO CREAM:
- Peel and seed the avocados and add to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade along with the rest of the avocado cream ingredients. Pulse until completely blended and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve with empanadas.
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