Baked empanadas

Red peanut chicken empanadas (or what should have been tamales)

As the month of May is coming to a close, one of the final Mexican dishes I wanted to make was tamales. Tamales are one of the staples of Mexican cooking and one of the dishes I immediately think of when I think of Mexican food.

They remind of a year my mom and I had Christmas dinner over a friend’s (who’s also named Nicole) house and tamales were served with a variety of fillings. They are made from a corn flour dough and filled with anything you wish: pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed until done. The most important part of making this dish is getting the right corn flour/ meal – yes there are different kinds for making different dishes. And it just so happened I bought the kind to make arepas and not tamales. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I decided to move on to plan B.

Earlier that same day, I decided to prepare empanada dough (which needs to chill in the fridge for at least and hour), so a dinner of tamales turned into a dinner of empanadas with a side of homemade tortilla chips and chunky guacamole.

Baked empanadas
Baked empanadas.

Empanadas are hands down one of my favorite foods. They always remind me of the year I lived in Madrid. Along with two other ladies, I lived with a host mother and her maid would make the most delicious empanadas ever. Empanadas originally come from Spain and the word empanar (to cover in bread) and were brought to Latin America with the colonists, and now every country has there own version of this delicious dish. You will also find variations of this turnover-style dish all throughout the world: samosas in India, beef patties in Jamaica, the curry puff or karipap in Malaysia, pierogies on the East of Coast in the U.S., and much more.

What you’ll need:

12 empanada disks (either homemade from this recipe or this one, or store-bought)
egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp water or milk)
Shredded chicken from 1 – 2 lbs of breast
3 – 4 cups of red peanut mole sauce
1/2 cup water (to thin sauce)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Heat shredded chicken and red peanut mole sauce together in a pan, adding water to thin sauce a little. Let sit and cool until room temperature.

Take your dough out of the fridge. On a floured surface, roll dough into round disks (if making from scratch) and fill with 1 tbsp of the chicken and peanut mole mixture.

Filling the empanada disk
Filling the empanada disk

Now, this is the second time I’ve made empanadas at home, and I have noticed that they do have a tendency to dry out, so I definitely recommend adding sauce to as much of the disk surface as possible.

filled raw empanada
Doesn’t it look so cute?

Put some egg wash on one edge of the disk and fold the other edge over so it closes and the filling is covered. Squeeze the edges together, so the disk is completely sealed. You can either make a design with your fingers or use a fork. Repeat with the rest of the empanadas, placing them six to each foil-lined baking sheet.

Empanadas waiting to be baked
Empanadas waiting to be baked

Brush each empanada with egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes, switching the position of the trays halfway through. Serve hot (but they also taste great cold the next day). The filling possibilities are endless: ground lamb, poatato and cheese, beef or pork, veggies or pretty much anything you want.

As I’ve mentioned, this is the second time I’ve made empanadas and honestly, they weren’t quite perfect yet. I made my dough with water and I think maybe milk might work better. Have any of you made empanadas? What tips could you share?

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