Happy Cinco de Mayo! Cinco de Mayo, as I wrote about in last year’s post, is a holiday celebrating the Battle of Puebla. It is celebrated as a holiday of Mexican heritage pride, and is widely celebrated in the United States, becoming more popular in mainstream American culture. So much of America is a huge melting pot of different cultures, that to celebrate a holiday that has been adopted and assimilated in American culture, we have made a dish that has been adopted and assimilated by many cultures; the empanada!
Empanadas origins are traced back to Spain and Portugal during the time of Moorish invasions, coming from the word empanar, meaning wrap or coat in bread. Through colonization, travel, and trade throughout the world, the empanada has moved to Latin America, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and parts of Southwest America; it is a truly universal food.
We made two kinds of empanadas, one savory and one sweet. The savory empanada is filled with potato, chorizo, and queso fresco, the sweet is filled with papaya jam.
This recipe takes about 2.5 hours
Ingredients: serves 10-12
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
10 oz chorizo
2 cloves garlic
4 medium golden potatoes
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 large pinches salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 very ripe papaya
¼ cup + a pinch sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Start by making the dough. Either by hand or in a food processor combine flour, salt, and cubed cold butter and mix until everything combined. In a small bowl whisk together one egg, vinegar, and water and pour into the flour mix, and using a fork mix everything together. On a floured surface knead out dough until just combined, pat into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.
To make savory filling, chop up potatoes, remove chorizo from casings and mince both garlic cloves. Fill a medium sauce pan with water, bring to a boil, then drop in potato and boil for about 10 minutes, or until soft. In a sauté pan set to medium heat, render the fat out of chorizo for about 7 minutes, constantly stirring, then add garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Set chorizo aside and let cool. Once potatoes have been cooked, drain and the water out, add salt, vinegar, and pepper, and mash up with two forks. Let cool.
To make sweet filling cut the papaya in half, remove seeds, and remove from skin with a spoon. In a small sauce pan on medium heat, start smashing up the papaya. Once the papaya starts to bubble, pour in sugar and lemon juice and stir for 6 minutes. Pour in a small bowl and let cool.
After the dough has chilled for an hour, cut in half, and one half at a time on a floured surface roll out about 1/8” thick. Using any circular shape (we used a bowl, and then a cookie cutter) cut out circles, larger ones for savory, and smaller ones for sweet.
To fill the empanadas, in a small bowl whisk one egg. To make the savory empanada; scoop about a Tablespoon of potato, a Tablespoon of chorizo, and sprinkle some queso fresco in the middle. Brush around the edge of the dough with egg, and then fold over, and using a fork push down on edges to seal. To fill the sweet it is a bit tricky and involves so finger skills. Pick up the smaller circle, fold slightly in half, fill with papaya jam, brush the inner edge with egg, push the edges together, lay back down on baking sheet, and using the fork push together. Chill the empanadas for 30 minutes. Keep egg wash.
Preheat oven to 375. Once empanadas chill, poke some holes to allow for steam to escape, and brush with the remainder of egg wash. Sprinkle the sweet empanadas with sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, rotating half way. You want them to be golden brown. Check the sweet ones at 20 minutes to make sure they don’t burn, sugar can brown very quickly.