I have an admission to make, this is my first time making empanadas. They are traditional here in New Mexico that have evolved over time. Influenced by many cultures over the years you will find savory empanadas stuffed with beef, chicken or pork, sometimes with veggies and spices. And then there are the sweet empanadas filled with pumpkin, sweet potato or fruit like apples, cherries or raisins as well as other fresh or dried fruits. As I researched the history of empanadas, I discovered that there are many meat pies around the world by other names made in the tradition of their region. From our time in Kansas City we had Steak and Guiness pies at Irish Fest. Joe’s home state of Michigan is known for their Pasties. We found Peasant Pies in San Francisco while on vacation one year. Those are just a few of the meat pies that we’ve had a chance to taste, each having their own distinct flavor. I wanted my first homemade empanadas to reflect the taste of New Mexico with ground pork and green chile. They are easy to make ahead and freeze, pulling out a few to warm up and serve alongside a bowl of soup or beans. They are so tasty, I can’t wait to try a sweet version next!
I’m going to start with the filling. Heat a cast iron skillet or small dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the ground pork and break apart as it begins to cook.
When the pork has browned and cooked through, add 1/2 cup of diced onion and saute until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
Add 2 teaspoons of my favorite seasoning blend to the pork and stir to combine.
Add a cup of roasted diced green chile to the mix. Stir well.
I wanted some tomatoes in my empanadas but not the juice, so instead I reconstituted 1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes and added to the filling.
Place a lid over top and set aside to cool.
Time to make the empanada dough. It’s similar to pie crust but with the addition of an egg. First combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix well.
Take 6 tablespoons of chilled butter and cut into small cubes. Add the butter to the flour mix and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture appears like cottage cheese with small pebble sized bits.
Add an egg that has been beaten and pulse until well combined.
Add 1/2 cup of cold water a little bit at a time, pulsing in between additions until the dough forms.
Test the dough to see if it is slightly tacky and will stick together when pressed between your fingers.
Divide the dough into approximately 16 pieces and roll into balls.
Roll out the dough into a thin round disc shape. Having a tortilla press makes quick work of pressing the dough in just a few seconds. If you have a tortilla press, place a piece of plastic on the press, then add the dough to the middle and fold the plastic over the top.
Press the dough into a 5 inch disc, give or take. They don’t have to be perfect.
Lay the discs on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Make an egg wash with 1 egg plus a tablespoon of water. Whisk together. Place 2 spoonsful of filling onto the dough and add a sprinkle of grated cheese. Lightly brush egg wash around the edges of the dough.
Fold the dough over and pinch together with your fingers to seal. Lay the empanada back on the lined baking sheet. Continue making the remaining empanadas.
Once all the empanadas are filled, brush egg wash over the tops of the empanadas.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until they are golden brown.
Serve with salsa alongside your favorite meal. We like them with stew or beans. If you can’t eat them all, they freeze well. I wrapped them individually in plastic wrap before placing in a zip lock freezer bag. Pull out however many you need, let thaw, unwrap and reheat in a toaster oven.
Pork and Green Chile Empanadas
Empanada Dough, recipe follows
1 pound Ground Pork
1/2 cup Onion, diced
2 teaspoons Burrito Seasoning, recipe follows
1 cup Roasted Green Chile, diced
1/4 cup Sun Dried Tomatoes, reconstituted and drained
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
Empanada Dough, adapted from Laylita’s Recipes
3 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
12 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
1/2 cup Cold Water
Egg Wash, 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon whisked
To make filling: Heat a cast iron skillet or small dutch oven over medium high heat. Add ground pork to the hot skillet and break apart with a wooden spoon as it browns. When the pork has browned and cooked through, add the diced onion and saute until the onion becomes soft and translucent. Add the seasoning mix and stir to combine. Add the diced green chile and sun dried tomatoes. Stir well. Place a lid on top and set aside to cool.
To make empanada dough: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix well. Take 6 tablespoons of chilled butter and cut into small cubes. Add the butter to the flour mix and pulse until the butter is incorporated and the mixture appears like cottage cheese with small pebble sized bits. Add a beaten egg and pulse to combine. Add the water a little bit at a time pulsing between each addition until you have a crumbly dough. The dough should be slightly tacky and will stick together when pressed between your fingers. Divide the dough into small dough balls, approximately 12 – 16 pieces. Roll each ball between your hands until they resemble a golf ball.
Roll each ball into a thin disc or you can use a tortilla press for quick work. To use a tortilla press, lay 1/2 of a large sheet of plastic over the bottom plate, add the dough ball, then fold the other half over the dough and press. The dough should be approximately 5″ round give or take. Lay each disc on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Make an egg wash by whisking 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Use a pastry brush to apply egg wash around the edges of the dough. Add approximately 2 spoonsful of filling in the center bottom of the dough and add a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. Fold the dough over the filling to line up with the other half and press the dough together with your fingers. Set back on the baking pan and continue filling and sealing the empanadas until they are all filled and sealed. Use the remaining egg wash to brush over the tops of each empanada.
Place in preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Serve with your favorite salsa.
Makes approximately 12 – 16 empanadas depending on size.
Note: Empanadas can be frozen for up to 2 months. Wrap each empanada individually in plastic wrap before placing in a zip lock freezer bag. Pull out however many you need, let thaw, unwrap and reheat in a toaster oven at 400 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes or until empanadas are heated throughout.
1 teaspoon Ancho Chile, ground
1 teaspoon Guajillo Chile, ground
1 teaspoon Green Chile Salt (1 part sea salt ground, 1 part green chile powder)
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Coriander
1/4 teaspoon Chile de Arbol, ground
Combine all spices together. Any unused seasoning can be stored in a plastic zip lock bag for later use.