A few days ago I was saw as I was surfing some of my favorite sites I saw a great post for chimichurri over at Macheesmo. Nick, the administrator there, had spent some time in Argentina where he learned to love this very tasty dipping sauce. After seeing his post, I got to thinking about some of the Spanish/Latin dishes I know and love, and I thought it would be a good time to post my chicken empanada recipe. In Spanish, an empanada means that something is wrapped in breading, so an empanada de pollo is chicken in breading.
A good way to describe this baked item is to say that it’s a rectangular shaped double crusted savory pie. The filling is usually cooked with onion, garlic, and tomato, and it can have beef, pork, lamb, chorizo, chicken, or tuna, or a combination of any of these meats. Emanpandas can also be baked as individual pies, known as empanadillas, or little breaded pies in English.
Most recipes that I have seen in Spain and in Argentina use white flour and a lot of lard or butter in the dough, and sometimes canned tomato sauce. For a healthier version, I use a mixture of whole wheat flour and white flour with one tablespoon olive oil. I also use fresh tomatoes instead of canned for the filling. I hope you enjoy this tasty pie!
To follow this recipe you will start by making the dough and while it is rising, make the filling.
Ingredients for the dough:
2-½ cups white flour
2-1/2 cups whole wheat flour, minus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespooons dry yeast
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt (This is used to brush on top before the empanada goes to the oven.)
Mix the dough:
In medium size mixing bowl, soak the yeast in 1/4 cup of the water (105°-115° F.) for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add the flour, oil, salt, and the remaining 1-3/4 cups of water. Knead the dough in a mixer about 7 minutes, until it forms a ball that is smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a medium bowl and place the bread dough in it. Cover the bowl with plastic, and set the bowl aside. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size (approximately 1-1/2 hours).
Ingredients for the Filling:
1-½ cups chicken, chopped into small pieces
¼ cup olive oil
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 green bell pepper, core removed, seeded and chopped
4 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Prepare the filling:
1.) Over a medium flame, sauté the green bell pepper in the olive oil. After five minutes add the onion, and stir frequently. After another 6-7 minutes, add the garlic and salt, and continue cooking until the onions are transparent.
2.) Add the tomatoes and oregano and cook for five minutes. Cover the pan and cook 5 more minutes. Remove the lid and cook until half of the liquid has evaporated, and then add the chicken. Continue to cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Note*- You’ll want some moisture, but you don’t want it too dry either. Check the seasonings. Let it cool.
Back to the dough:
1.) When the dough has just about doubled, use olive oil to lightly oil a baking pan. The pan should have 1/2 to 3/4 inch sides, and measure approximately 17-1/2 by 12-1/2 inches. The oil is used so the crust will not stick to the pan.
2.) Pre-heat the oven to 400°. Roll out ½ of the dough to the size of the sheet pan, and place the rolled dough in the pan. Cover the dough with plastic and let it rest for 20 minutes.
3.) Begin to roll out the ½ half of the dough to the same size as the pan. Make 2 to 3 small holes in the top crust to allow the steam to escape. Make the holes about 1/2 inch in size.
4.) Pierce the dough in the pan with a fork, from end to end and side to side, to prevent it from bubbling up when it is in the oven.
5.) Spread the filling over the dough in the sheet pan, and then cover it with the second layer of dough. This is the tricky part. Take good aim and try not to stretch the dough as you place it over the filling. Tuck the sides down trying to press the dough into the bottom layer.
6.) Use a kitchen paint brush and brush on the beaten egg. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes.
The empanada is ready when the bottom crust feels firm and crispy and the top is golden brown. Remove it from the oven and from the pan. Place it on a cookie rack to cool. After it has cooled for 5 minutes, place it on a cutting board to slice with a sharp knife.
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You may also like my Tex-Mex Pizza Recipe.