My husband is a picky eater. When I met him, he refused to eat anything green, and the only vegetable he was even willing to look at was a potato. For a vegetarian girl who makes everything from scratch, this was challenging. I love growing vegetables, and cooking light, fresh foods in my happy, little kitchen. We had to learn to compromise on our ingredients and our tastebuds, and because of that we’ve both grown in the food department. I cook heavier, more comforting foods now to suit our home and our cozy family dinners. He has added a few vegetables to his repertoire and doesn’t panic when he sees me toss something green into a skillet. We learn from each other every day and we’re both expanding our horizons, simply by being near each other.
We were both craving something hispanic this week, and I wanted to try something different than our go-to tacos (which are lovely by the way – I’ll write a post on those one day soon). I started pinteresting -naturally- and found lots of empanada recipes. I flashed back to a freezing cold night in New York City, eating the most deliciously hot and comforting empanadas at a tiny restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen called Empanada Mama’s. That was another life ago, but all those experiences give us what we need to be who we are in this moment right here right now. And right then, I was inspired by a delicious memory to try my hand at empanadas and see if I could give Adam a taste of Hell’s Kitchen.
I couldn’t find a recipe with exactly the right ingredients. With our completely opposing palettes, we don’t always fit into the standard ingredient blend categories. Finally I settled on an adapted edition of Reeni’s Chicken Empanada recipe from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice. I must admit, I’m new at all things pastry, and I’m fairly sure I did something wrong while mixing or rolling or cutting these empanada pastry shells. Reeni’s recipe claims that it will yield 32 shells, and I honestly ended up with half that. The final product was still delicious, so if I had to guess, I just rolled my shells thicker than she does. I’ll try slimming them down next time to even out the filling/pastry ratio and get more out of the recipe. I chose to fill these with cheese, jalapeños, chicken, blackbeans, and bell peppers, but you can put absolutely anything in an empanada. These are perfect for our ever changing food moods, and they were -very- picky husband approved.
Cheesy Chicken Empanadas
Adapted from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 Tablespoon Coarse Salt
3/4 Cup Cold, Unsalted, Cubed Butter
1 1/4 Cups Ice Water
8 Ounces Cream Cheese
2 Cups Cooked Shredded Chicken
1/3 Cup Greek Yogurt
1 1/2 Cup Shredded, Sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 Ounces Fresh, Diced Jalapeños
4 Ounces Diced Bell Peppers
4 Ounces Drained Black Beans
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 Beaten Egg
1 Tablespoon Milk or Water
Pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt a few times in a food processor. Add the -cold- butter (I typically put mine in the freezer for about 15 minutes before adding it) and pulse until you have fairly consistent, pea sized pieces.
Add 1 cup of ice water and pulse until the dough starts to come together. If the dough is too crumbly and dry to hold together, add a tablespoon of water at a time, until the dough is moist enough to come together, but isn’t too wet and sticky. Pour the dough out onto a floured board and knead until it just comes together (3 -5 times).
Divide the dough into three equal portions and flatten them into thick, even disks. Wrap them tightly in saran wrap, and place in refrigerator.
Heat the cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl, until it melts enough to stir. In your stand mixer -or a large mixing bowl with hand mixer- add the cream cheese, chicken, greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, jalapeños, bell peppers, and black beans. Mix slowly to combine well, and add salt and pepper to your preference.
Preheat the oven to 400F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small bowl, pour cold water.
On a -lightly- floured surface, roll out one pastry dough disk at a time to 1/8 inch thick. Use a biscuit or cookie cutter -or cup- to cut out 4 inch circles. Place these on your baking sheets and scoop 1 tablespoon of filling into the center of each one. Wet the edges of the pastry circles with the cold water, and fold over to close. Press the edges together with the tines of a fork to close, and place baking sheets with empanadas in the fridge for 2o minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk egg and milk. Take the empanadas out of the fridge and brush lightly with the egg mixture. Bake 14 to 17 minutes until golden brown.