Empanada came from the word ’empanar’ meaning “enbreaded”, that is, wrapped or coated in bread. It is a bread-pastry common in Southern European, Latin America and Philippines. The pastry can either be baked or fried and can be stuffed with sweet or savory filling. Now a days, there are different variations of empanada, from meat filling, to vegetarian and even vegan variations.
The Chicken and Potato Curry Filling
I cannot stress enough how much I love this Chicken Potato Curry. The flavor was over the top delicious, the creaminess of the thick sauce is so comforting especially on a cold fall or winter weather. Not only that it has tons of flavor, it sure does have a lot of punch from the dried and fresh peppers, why else will I call it spicy? Don’t worry, I you are not into spicy food, you can remove the fresh jalapeño pepper which is the big contributor to the heat in this dish. Now if you are on the spicy team, then go ahead and enjoy those fresh jalapeño peppers. If you are on top of the spicy team, don’t bother to remove the seeds, but don’t tell me I did not warn you. It will be a lot more spicy with the seeds intact.
How to Make Empanada Dough: Click HERE for the Recipe
The method used in making this empanada dough is the same method I used for my shortcut puff pastry. It uses frozen butter, chilled bowl and flour and ice cold lemon water. The method is more like making puff pastry or biscuit, instead that of making a bread dough. This method has been proven to work with scones and biscuits. Using chilled ingredients, and pea size pieces of butter produces light as flaky dough. The frozen butter melts and burst as it hits and exposed to the heat of the oven. This bursting creates steam and leaves pockets of hollow spot and layer in the dough this producing a light and flaky dough. This is something that you will not see in traditional empanada dough that are bread like and compact. When I started using this method, I never made it any other way. Don’t get me wrong, traditional empanada is great, I just find this better. In the end, it is your choice. But before you say ‘No’ to this method, at least give it a try first. Can you do that for me, please?
Few Ways to Assemble and Fill Empanada
There are few ways on how to roll and fill empanada. Some uses cookie cutter, some uses empanada press, some are free form like what I did for this recipe. Let me give you few options that I had tried before that I think works. I did try using empanada press but I really did not like the outcome so I am not including that option here.
- By Using A Cookie Cutter: I did not use cookie cutter to cut out the dough. Most recipes do this and it is totally fine. I used to do it that way too. Using cookie cutter gives perfect shape and size, but the downside of it is that often times you will end up with small pieces of scrap dough from the cut-out. I hate wasting ingredients and this is one reason why I do not use cookie cutter any more. If you are using a cookie cutter, simply flatten the dough to about 1/4-inch thick then use a cookie cutter to cut out the dough to your desired size. I would say 5 – 6-inches so that there is extra dough for folding the edge
- Flatten, Roll and Cut: This is the method that I prefer to use. Why do we need to roll this into a log? First we want to flatten the dough to about 1/4-inch thick, then we start rolling it to form a thin log or imagine a thicker soft bread stick. Rolling creates layers when the empanada bakes.
- Cut and Flatten : This last option I also use and will not leave any scrap dough. Just divide the dough to 6 portions or however many or less you want. You can estimate it or you can use kitchen scale if you want to be precise. Once divided, flatten the dough to 6-inches then start filling the center. The 2 and 3rd options are more rustic looking. there is no need to be perfect in size and shape and the edges will be folded anyway.
This empanada is almost like a Croissant, look at those layers! This is unlike any other Empanada that has bread like and though dough, this has layers and layers of thin, flaky and buttery bread. I hope you will give it a try, you will not regret it. Let’s get started!
Freezing Un-Bake Empanada
One of the thing that I LOVE about this empanada is that is freeze well. For someone like me who eat like a bird, I do not have to worry of baking everything in one go. Empanada is best served the day they are made to enjoy the texture and flavor to the fullest. Although they can be re-heated in the toaster or oven, there is still nothing like eating it fresh from the oven. I always make a small batch of 6 if I am making it just for myself, but if I am sharing it with friends, I make the batch of 12. Freezing this unbake is very simple and easy. Once you filled the empanada, arrange it in a baking tray and leave it in the freezer for at least 1 hour. Once it is hard enough, transfer it in a ziplock bag. I like to put 2 pieces in each bag so they are not squeezed in. Label the ziplock bag with date and name. This could last 2-3 months in the freezer but it never really last that long for me because I ended up baking it sooner than later. Once you are ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 400F and remove from the freezer. You can brush the top with egg wash for nice browning, but it is totally optional. the egg wash will not affect the taste, it is more for presentation and look. Bake to about 40 minutes or until the top is nicely browned and flaky.
- Empanada Dough – get the recipe HERE. I used the small batch of 6
- 1 Medium size deboned and skinless CHICKEN BREAST– cut into small cubes
- 3 Cloves GARLIC (minced)
- 1/4 cup ONION (minced)
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon CURRY POWDER
- 1/4 teaspoon CHILI FLAKES
- 3/4 teaspoon CUMIN POWDER
- 1/2 teaspoon TURMERIC POWDER (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon table SALT
- 2 1/2 teaspoon SUGAR
- 1/4 cup COCONUT CREAM (If using coconut milk, remove the water and scoop out only the cream)
- 1/2 medium BELL PEPPER cut into small pieces
- 1 medium size POTATO cut into cubes
- 1 medium size fresh Jalapeno Pepper – chopped
- 1/4 cup GREEN PEAS
- 1/4 cup WATER or BROTH
Note: Adjust seasonings according to your preference. I like mine spicy, so I add quite a lot of peppers.
Instructions for Chicken & Potato Curry Filling:
- In a heated pan, add oil, onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the curry powder, chili flakes, cumin powder, turmeric powder, salt and sugar. Cook about 1 -2 minutes to extract the flavor of the spices.
- Add chicken and mix to combine with spices. Stir in the coconut cream or milk. Add the potato and water. Cover and cook in medium low heat for 15 minutes. Add the bell pepper, fresh jalapeno and green peas and cook for another 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick and liquid has evaporated.
- Let cool completely before using as filling for empanada
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F.
- Flatten and roll Empanada dough and form into a log shape.
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces (or 12 if making a big batch)
- Roll 1/4-inch thick, about 6-inches size. Fill the center with empanada filling. Fold the dough to cover the filling, Slightly pull the filling towards you to make extra space in front. You need extra dough in front for folding the edges. Press the sides to keep it tight. Brush side with water then fold the extra dough so seal the sides. Crimp the edges using your fingers. Check out the video for a visual demonstration on how to do this.
- Freeze the empanada at leeast 15 minutes before baking. At this stage, you can bake it immediately or freeze for future baking. You can keep the empanada in the freezer while you pre-heat the oven. The colder it is, the flakier it will be.
- Optional: Brush top with egg wash (1 beaten egg + 1 teaspoon water)
- Bake for 35 -40 minutes or until the empanada turns brown and flaky.
Note: Filling can be made ahead of time and stored in fridge.
Leftover Empanada can be re-heated in the oven at 300F for 10-15 minutes.
Enjoy! If you make this, share and tag me in Instagram #SweetNSpicyLiving. I would like to see your creations too.
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