The days are getting longer and the smell of spring is in the air. For some reason, this time of year always make me crave spicy, delicious fried foods – these empanadas fit that bill! They require a little time but are certainly worth the effort. A perfect snack to take up the hill or to serve at your first BBQ of the season. They can be prepared ahead of time and frozen. Simple defrost and gently reheat before serving.
Pulled Chicken & Jalapeño Empanadas
1tsp cider vinegar
175g plain flour
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
oil for deep frying
175g chicken leg meat, cooked & shredded
2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
1tbsp smoked paprika
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
½ tsp ground cumin
10 pitted green olives, finely chopped
2 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp dry sherry
3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
100g gouda or pizza cheese, shredded
80g pickled jalapeños, diced
1 egg (for the egg wash – optional)
To make the pastry, sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl, add the cold butter and rub between your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add 90mls of cold water and 1 tsp of cider vinegar to make a soft dough. Gently knead for a few turns then wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes (the dough can be made up to a day ahead).
For the filling, in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and sauté for a further 3-4 mins. Stir in the paprika, chili, cumin, raisins, green olives, sherry and lime zest and cook stirring until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and add lime juice, season to taste. Spread on a plate to quickly cool the mixture.
On a floured surface roll out the pastry until 3mm thick, then use a 10cm round cutter to press out 12 rounds, re-rolling as necessary. Fill each round with 1-2 Tablespoons of chicken mixture, some diced jalapeño, and plenty of shredded cheese. Lift both edges of the round and seal the edges using your fingers. Use a fork to seal the edges further.
Heat the oil in deep pan or fryer to 180°C, then add the pastries in batches, turning occasionally until they are golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Alternatively, you can bake the empanadas in the oven at 190C . Brush them with egg wash and bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Don’t worry if you have a few peas size chunks of butter left in your flour, it will help the dough form layers.
Using cold butter and ice cold water is recommended.
Resist the temptation to knead the dough too much! Just turn it enough times for it to come together.
Chilling the dough before rolling it out is very important.
Don’t fill empanadas with warm filling, make sure it has cooled completely before assembling.