How to make the perfect cheese empanadas – recipe | Food

Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz affirmed that a little book could be written about empanadas, empanadas, cakes, pastries, empadinhas and pastèzinhos… that is, “those delicious empanadas, empanadas and empanadas, stuffed with meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and other mixtures, and baked or fried, which are so popular throughout Latin America.” Such is the variety on offer, in fact, I would suggest that it is probably quite a large book. As writer Naomi Tomky notes, perhaps a little nostalgically, in Serious Eats, “it would take a lifetime of nonstop empanada eating to sample all the endless combinations of doughs, fillings, and cooking methods that are so closely tied to the specific needs. culture, flora and fauna of each region of Latin America”.

That’s a challenge I’d happily accept, but The Guardian has refused to extend my deadline, so I’ve chosen to focus on the simple cheese-filled kind found almost everywhere. Even then, the variety is such from country to country that (as always) the following should be seen more as an introductory guide than a definitive recipe. Portable, cheap, and endlessly versatile, easy to make vegan, gluten-free, and even (relatively) healthy, empanadas are hands down the ultimate Democratic party food. Well… after the fries, anyway.

the cupcake

Pilar Hernandez's empanadas for the perfect empanadas by Felicity Cloake June 12, 2021Short, crisp, Brazilian-style dough is the way to go for Pilar Hernandez’s empanadas. All Felicity Cloake miniatures.

Generally speaking, wheat-based cakes are most popular in the southern tip of Latin America, with corn increasingly common in Colombia and Venezuela, and starchy cassava doughs are emerging in Central America and the Caribbean. I try several versions of wheat made with lard or butter: some with leavening agents like baking powder and sparkling water (see Ecuadorian blogger Layla Pujol), others breaded and crunchy (Chilean cook Pilar Hernández’s, and still others). like the small and brittle one by Lambert Ortiz). Brazilian pastries They all do the job nicely, holding together during baking, my amateurish crimping notwithstanding, but my head is particularly blown away by the distinctive texture and flavor of Denver-based blogger Christa Jimenez’s Costa Rican version using ground corn, emerging from the fryer. deeply golden and deliciously crisp.

However, to prepare it, you will need masarepa, that is, cooked, dehydrated and ground corn, instead of fine cornmeal or cornmeal. It’s readily available online, or anywhere with a large Latin American community, but I’ve also given a recipe using wheat flour below, incorporating the lard and cider vinegar that writer Gaby Melian uses in her Bon recipe. Appetit to ensure maximum flaking (Pujol replaces that orange juice), but omitting the sugar that some put. If you prefer to keep them vegetarian, use butter instead.

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Note that while the dough isn’t much simpler than the corn recipe, it’s harder to work with unless you’re used to it (I tend to end up molding it around the filling like play-dough); the wheat version is much more forgiving.

The cheese

Christa Jimenez's empanadas are 'deeply golden and deliciously crisp'.Christa Jimenez’s empanadas are ‘deeply golden and deliciously crisp’. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

As Jiménez explains, the Costa Rican white cheese used locally for empanadas “is found literally only in Costa Rica (as far as I know!).” The same is true of many of the recipes I try, with Hernández calling for chanco queso de fundo, “a milk-flavored mature cheese,” and others mentioning fresh and farmhouse cheeses that are hard to find outside their area of ​​production. Happily, everyone is generous with their suggestions for substitutes, with mozzarella, havaarti, monterey jack, and ricotta among the most readily available examples in this country. I also try the halloumi (the white Costa Rican cheese apparently squeaks), the creamy stracchino, the crumbly ricatta salata, and the anari, a soft milky sheep or goat cheese from Cyprus.

Frankly, all are welcome in my mouth, although if you’re using something low-fat like Lambert Ortiz’s ricotta, I’d add an egg yolk, like her, to give it a creamier texture, while dry cheeses like ricotta salata need a Little bit of texture help in the blending department. Pujol admits that “really, the combinations for cheese empanadas are endless, but I recommend using a mix of melted cheese with a flavorful but less melty cheese.” With that in mind, I went for a mix of firm mozzarella and salty halloumi, but mozzarella, crumbly lancashire, or even feta would work. I am also skeptical of many excellent plant-based alternatives that I am not qualified to advise on.)

Melian tosses the mozzarella into cornmeal, saying “this will keep the mozzarella from liquefying while the empanadas cook.” I quite like the way it leaves the inside of the rind a bit wet and doughy, but if you prefer the ultimate crunch, add a little to the cheese mixture after grating.

Layla Pujol's empanadas for Felicity Cloake's perfect empanadas June 12, 2021Raw onion and sugar? Layla Pujol’s empanadas.

Onion is a common addition—I prefer it sautéed first, like Melian does, rather than using it raw, like in Pujol’s recipe—but the best thing for me is Lambert Ortiz’s chives, which add a fresh, green note ( and, as a bonus, they don’t require pre-cooking). Melian also includes shredded ham, which of course is very nice, although it reduces the cheese to a small part when for me it deserves to be the star.

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Melian seasons it with dried oregano, while Pujol gives another recipe with roasted poblano peppers, which are well worth trying if you come across them. But if you’d like a bit of spice, I’d imagine pickled jalapenos or smoky chipotle paste would also be welcome (alternatively, serve with hot sauce).

Pujol dusts his freshly fried empanadas with sugar and calls the contrast between the flavorful cheese “something distinctively Ecuadorian.” I’m sorry to say that I struggled with the raw onion and sugar combination, but if you’re more open-minded, I assure readers that it’s delicious.

shape and cook

Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz's 'little short crumbly Brazilian cakes'.Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz’s ‘little short crumbly Brazilian cakes’. Photograph: Felicity Cloake/The Guardian

Although they are very easy to make (as long as you keep the corn dough moist and the wheat dough cold), the hard part is making sure the empanadas are completely sealed to minimize escape routes for the melted cheese. I say minimize, because if you manage to produce a leak-free batch, you should probably move on to professional production. (Consolation prize: crispy puddles on the baking sheet are just about the best, as far as I’m concerned.)

I can’t deny that I love the fried empanadas I try, so crispy and flaky and, yes, very slightly greasy, but for a party, it’s more practical to bake them so you’re not standing over the fryer in your merry rags. If the appearance is less important, fry them (carefully) in a pan with a third of neutral oil at a maximum of about 180ºC, until golden. Either way, serve immediately, before the cheese cools and solidifies, with salsa or hot sauce and plenty of napkins.

perfect empanadas

Homework 30 min + break
Cook 25 minutes
brands 12-16

for the pastry shop
285g masarepa (corn flour for arepas)
½ teaspoon fine salt
500 ml of lukewarm water
Oil, vegetable milk or beaten egg

55g lard, butter or vegan baking block
240 ml of water
1 tablespoon fairly neutral vinegar
(for example, cider, white wine, rice)
½ teaspoon fine salt
400 g of common flour
plus extra to dust
Oil, beaten egg or milkbrush

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For the filling
300 g firm-cooked mozzarellagrated
100g halloumi, lancashire crumbles, feta etc.
4 spring onionstrimmed, white and green parts finely chopped (optional)

Felicity Cloake's Pies 01 Photograph: Dan Matthews/The Guardian. Food styling: Lola Faura/Styling Department.

If you’re making the corn masa, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, then add the water until you have a moist, but not runny masa (add more water if it cracks), and let rest for 15 minutes.

If you are making the masa harina, melt the fat, then add the water and vinegar and pour into a large bowl. Gradually add the salt and flour (remember that the liquid will be hot), then turn out onto a floured surface and knead until a smooth, soft but not sticky dough is obtained. Wrap and chill for at least an hour, until cold.

Handling the dough with wet hands at all times, divide the corn dough into large golf balls and cover all but one with a damp kitchen towel.

Use a tortilla press, or cover a board with cling film, place a ball on top, cover with another sheet of cling film, then place a board or flat-bottomed glass bowl on top and press down until you have a thin circle of dough.

Felicity Cloake's Enchilladas NO, empanadas 02 Photography: The Guardian. Food styling: Lola Faura/Styling Department.

If you are using the wheat dough, divide it into large golf ball-sized balls and, on a floured surface, roll into spheres. Cover with a damp kitchen towel as you make the first patty by rolling or flattening it into a thin circle.

Mix together the cheeses, spring onion, and salt, then spoon a large spoonful into the middle of the dough circle (it should fill it generously, but not so much that it’s hard to close), then pinch the edges together and pinch to seal (a little thick). water can help).

Felicity Cloake's Pie 03

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Felicity Cloake's pies05

Once all the empanadas are shaped and on the tray, put them in the fridge to cool while you heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Brush the empanadas with beaten egg or oil, bake for 25 minutes, until golden, and serve immediately.

Empanadas – wheat, corn or cassava? And baked or fried? What is your favorite filling and what do you serve with them?

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