I hosted book club a few weeks ago and was looking for a new appetizer for our group. I’d never made empanadas before, and I quickly learned that sweet and savory options abound for this little bundle of flaky pastry and filling. It was tough to choose just one, but in the end I couldn’t resist the flavors of the curried pork in this empanadas recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes.
Don’t be put off by the number of steps in the recipe. Trust me; these are totally worth a bit of putzing. If you need a hot make-ahead appetizer, these empanadas are perfect for a number of reasons:
The dough and the filling can be made a few days ahead,
The empanadas can be assembled a few hours ahead,
AND they can even be baked earlier in the day and reheated before guests arrive.
Talk about great options for a host! I also love that these are baked, not fried, which means less mess on my stove top. (Did I mention I’m not a very clean cook?)
I was running short on time with after-school kid activities, so I baked these earlier in the day, and I was worried that the crust would be tough after I reheated the empanadas. I had no reason to fear. The butter and cream cheese combination ensures the crust stays super tender and flaky, even after reheating. And while authentic Argentinean empanadas are not traditionally served with dipping sauce, we’re a family of dippers at heart, so I had to offer at least a few choices for those fellow dippers out there. I opted for a sweet mango chutney and ginger-soy glaze (both purchased at the grocery store), and they were great complements to the empanadas.
Now that I’ve made a savory version, I can’t wait to try a sweet one. Have a favorite filling for your empanadas? Share with us!
Add cream cheese, butter and ¼ teaspoon salt to a medium bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix until combined. Gradually add the flour and mix until just incorporated. Form two rounds of dough, dust with flour and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of salt in the bottom of the pan and add small pieces of the ground pork to the skillet. Don’t stir the pork, just let it brown. When one side is browned, carefully turn the pork pieces over and brown on the other side. Remove from skillet when browned on both sides.
Add olive oil to the pan and return it to medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes. Mix the curry and ginger into the onion mixture. Return the pork to the pan and add the sherry, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch and raisins. Mix well. If the pork pieces are too big, break them up with a spatula. Refrigerate meat mixture if not making empanadas right away.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove one of the rounds of dough and let it set for 5 minutes to soften. Sprinkle some flour on your rolling surface and roll out the dough so it is about ⅛ inch thick. Cut circles (mine were 3 inches) from dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the inside edge of the dough circles with the egg wash. Drop a teaspoon of the pork mixture inside the dough circles, being careful to keep it away from the edges of the dough. (Stray pieces of pork don’t allow the empanadas to seal properly and they pop open when baking.) Fold the dough circles in half and seal the edges. If you want to fancy them up, you can twist the edges together with your hands (like a pie crust) or use the tines of a fork to flute the edges. Brush the outside of the empanadas with egg wash and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Repeat with remaining dough round.
Chill the unbaked empanadas for 10 minutes after you fill and seal the pastry rounds but before you add the egg wash and optional tine marks with the fork. If the dough is too warm/soft, the tine marks will not remain very visible after baking.