These baked or fried treats are popular in Southern Europe, Latin America and across the Southwestern United States.
The secret to making the best empanadas is all in the pastry dough, according to Chef Juan Bochenski.
Executive Chef Juan Bochenski of Anasazi Restaurant at Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe learned the secret to the pastry dough from his grandmother back in Argentina.
A true Santa Fe sensation, Executive Chef Juan Bochenski’s authentic empanadas took the city by storm after their initial debut and have become permanent menu fixtures.
At the Anasazi Restaurant, Chef Juan keeps his empanada creations fresh and fun by making both sweet and savory varieties and using local ingredients such as buffalo and quince, echoing the restaurant’s Southwestern surroundings.
Chef Juan shares his recipes for Buffalo Empanadas and Quince Pastelitos, a sweeter empanada variant.
8 cups flour
1/2 cup lard or butter
1 tbs salt
2 tbs sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1 lbs ground buffalo beef
3 white onions, diced, about 3 1/2 cups
1/2 cup lard or butter
2 tbs smoked paprika
2 tbs chili powder or any ground hot pepper
1 tbs finely chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tbs ground cumin
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/4 cup sliced green olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly whisked
Making the dough:
Mix the flour and salt in a food processor and add the lard or butter until blended
Add the eggs and milk in small amounts, pulse until small dough clumps start to form
Make a couple of balls, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet (3-4 mm thickness) and cut out round disc shapes (4 in. in diameter). Either use immediately or refrigerate until using.
Making the buffalo picadillo filling:
Melt the lard in a large frying pan or sauté pan; add the onions, salt, cumin, chile powder and smoked paprika and cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes
Add the chopped green onions and cook for 1 minute
Add the meat mixture and cook on medium heat until medium rare, about 3 minutes.
Let the meat mixture cool, and then mix in the oregano, olives and hard boiled eggs.
Assembling the empanadas:
Pre-heat the oven to 400° F
Add a spoonful of the meat mixture on the center of the disk
Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites
Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers. With a fork, press down to finish sealing the empanadas
Lightly brush the tops with the egg yolk to give a nice golden glow when they bake.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Pastelitos de Dulce de Membrillo (Quince)
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp. [1 1/2 sticks] butter, softened
For the filling and sugar syrup:
5-6 oz. dulce de membrillo (quince paste), cut into small squares
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 c. water
sprinkles for decorating
Making the dough:
Sift together flour, cornstarch and salt. Add one stick of butter and combine until dough becomes loose and crumbly. Add 1 tbsp. of water at a time and knead until dough is smooth. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Roll out the dough into a large rectangle (3/8 inch in thickness). Spread 2 Tbsp. of butter over the dough and lightly sprinkle with flour. Fold the dough in half and lightly press down. Again, spread 2 Tbsp. of butter, lightly sprinkle with flour and fold in half.
Place the dough on a parchment-lined sheet and let rest in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.
Roll out the dough (1/16 and 1/8 inch in thickness), and cut it into 4-inch squares.
Assembling the pastelitos:
Place a cube of dulce de membrillo in the center of a square of dough. Lightly wet the area around the cube. Line another square of dough over the first and press to seal the two pieces of dough. Lightly wet the top of the pastelito, and pinch together the corners of the square.
In a medium-sized pot, fry 5 to 6 pastelitos in oil at 300ºF and then increase to 350ºF once the puff layers have opened. Drain the pastelitos on paper towels.
Making the sugar syrup:
Meanwhile, make the sugar syrup by Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring it to a low boil and cook for five minutes.
Glazing the pastelitos:
Dip pastelitos in the sugar syrup. Allow excess syrup to drip off. Decorate pastelitos with sprinkles.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
For National Empanada Day, Cinco de Mayo or any day, these tasty recipes will help you make empanadas your whole family will love.