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National Empanada Day!

Today we celebrate one of my favorites which has some Latin American roots, the empanada.

An empanada is a popular pastry in Latin American cuisine that is typically filled with various savory ingredients such as ground beef, chicken, or vegetables. The pastry dough is folded over the filling and crimped closed, then baked or fried until crispy and golden. They are often served as street food or as a snack and can be found in many variations depending on the region. In some countries, such as Argentina and Chile, empanadas are a staple food and are often enjoyed as part of a traditional meal. It can also be found in sweet versions, filled with fruits, such as apples or guava, or dulce de leche.

The pastry dough for empanadas is usually made from flour, water, and fat, and is rolled out and cut into circles or half-moons. The filling is then spooned onto the dough and the pastry is folded over and crimped closed, creating a pocket of deliciousness.

Empanadas are incredibly versatile and can be found in many different variations, depending on the region. In Argentina, for example, empanadas are typically filled with beef, onion, and spices, while in Mexico, they may be filled with beans and cheese.

Empanadas can be baked or fried until crispy and golden, and are often served with a dipping sauce, such as chimichurri or salsa. They can be enjoyed as a snack or as a main dish, and are a popular food for parties or gatherings.  One of the great things about empanadas is that they can be made ahead of time and reheated for a quick and easy meal. And with so many different fillings and flavors to choose from, there’s sure to be an empanada that everyone will love.

Here’s a simple recipe for empanadas:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (or any other filling of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Cut in the cold butter using a pastry blender or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  2. Gradually add ice water, starting with 1/4 cup, and mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Knead the dough briefly on a floured surface, then wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion, red and green bell peppers, and garlic until softened. Add the chicken, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper, and cook until the filling is heated through.
  5. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out circles using a biscuit cutter or a round cookie cutter.
  6. Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of each circle, leaving about 1/2 inch of dough around the edges. Fold the dough over to form a half-moon shape, then crimp the edges with a fork to seal.
  7. Whisk together the egg and water, then brush the empanadas with the egg wash.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the empanadas are golden brown and crispy. Serve hot or at room temperature.

So the next time you’re looking for a delicious and portable snack or meal, consider trying an empanada. Your taste buds will thank you!