Empanadas are a true Mexican tradition, and have been around for MANY centuries Although it is impossible to pinpoint a specific time when, and where these originated, historically they have been believed to be depicted in paintings of ancient Mayan ruins! In Mexico, there are stories of three Portuguese nuns from Spain that came to Mexico in the 1500's and brought the Picadillo empanada with them. (To this day in Mexico, nuns are still very much known for their empanadas!) This food item is traditionally made in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Caribbean, Philippines, and South America. Empanadas are basically turnovers, (a stuffed pastry or bread), that can be made sweet or savory. The crust can be spiced or flavored, made of white or whole wheat flour, or cornmeal, and each region or culture has their own signature flavors or fillings. Empanadas come from the Spanish "empanar", which means "to wrap or coat in bread." This recipe is AMAZING!! The cream cheese in the crust adds tenderness, flavor, and a "creaminess", which very much compliments the intense, and rich chicken filling. (In Mexico, Nata would be used instead of cream cheese.) To add an even more in- depth experience, I have added the Creamy Avocado Chimichurri sauce to compliment the flavors.
** Picadillo is a traditional meat filling of pork, chicken, or beef, with a spiced rich tomato sauce consisting of garlic, onions, carrots, olives, nuts, and usually raisins, (I did not include raisins in the recipe pictured.)
**Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian green sauce- similar to a pesto.
*For some shortcuts, buy pre-made pie crust, and use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken, etc.
Yields: About 22-24 Empanadas
8oz. cream cheese (room temp.)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temp.)
1/2 t salt
1 cup AP flour
1 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
***1 egg (for egg wash)
1) In a food processor, mixer, or by hand, combine cream cheese, butter, and salt until well mixed.
2) Add flour slowly, until dough forms a ball. Dough should be a bit tacky, but not sticky! (Add a bit more flour if necessary.)
3) Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1-12 hours. (Can do night before! Not much different from a sugar dough.)
Chicken Picadillo Filling
1 # chicken or 2 cups pre-cooked
2 cloves garlic
1/4 white onion chopped
1 carrot diced or chopped
2 cups tomato puree
1 small can chicken broth
1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes
salt & ground black pepper to taste
1 cinnamon stick
1 t. cumin
1/2 t ground cloves
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (optional)
1/4 cup slivered almonds ( or whatever nuts you prefer.)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4cup Manzanilla olives
1) In a medium pot, heat oil (about a couple Tablespoons), sauté garlic, onion, carrot, and meat, (if uncooked), for a couple minutes.
2) Add tomato puree, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and spices. Allow to simmer for 15min. on medium.
3) Add remaining ingredients: olives, raisins, nuts, and sun- dried tomatoes. Continue to cook mixture down, until thickened, stirring occasionally. (This will take about an hour or more on a low heat. Remember, this is a filling for pastries, so can't be too "runny" or soup like!) Allow mixture to cool.
***Can do ahead and refrigerate.
4) Pre-heat oven to 350F
5) Divide dough in half. Roll out 1 half of chilled dough until about 1/8in. thick. Cut into desired rounds, (a cup or glass works well.)
6) Take about 1-3 t. of filling and place in center of each round. dipping your finger in water, go around the outside of circle. Fold dough in half, press edges together, and crimp with a fork. Transfer Empanadas to a foil, parchment, or silpat lined sheet tray. Repeat this step until dough is used up! **See pics below for reference!
7) In a bowl, beat the egg and add about 1t. of water. With a pastry or silicone brush, egg wash each empanada, then sprinkle sesame and chia seeds.
8) Bake in oven at 350F for 15-20min. (Convection.)
1 cup Parsley
2 cloves garlic
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup of walnuts (optional)
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2-3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1) Combine parsley, garlic, lime juice, walnuts, and spices in a blender or food processor. Add olive oil. Add yogurt.
Delicioso!! Serve as an appetizer, snack, or as a main course!