Monday, February 20, 2012

Empanadas with Barcelona Cookbook Empanada Dough

I love long weekends, don't you?  That third day makes me feel like I have all the time in the world, and I can cook all day.  This weekend I happily spent time in my kitchen making empanadas.

Empanadas are a great way to use up leftovers.  I made a filling from leftover Thomas Keller roast chicken, gravy, salsa, and a little crushed tomatoes, mixing it with sauteed onions and garlic, spices (cumin, chili powder, oregano, and kosher salt and pepper), and a little cream cheese to bind.  

Whenever you make empanada filling, it should be juicy but not runny.  It also should be bold in flavor as the little morsel of filling needs to carry the dough as well.

For the dough, I tried out my friend Andy Pforzheimer's recipe from his Barcelona Cookbook (recipe below), and it was fabulous, tender and soft.  I would expect no less from Andy, as I've made several other Barcelona Cookbook recipes on my blog with great success.  His restaurants are also spectacular.

I did make one modification to his recipe, substituting vodka for half of the water called for in his recipe. The alcohol apparently reduces gluten formation, and it burns off during cooking, leaving a flaky crust.  

Here's the dough when it's done mixing.  It balls up around the dough hook attachment.  If you find it's too wet and not balling up, add little sprinklings of flour until it gathers itself together.  Conversely, if it's dry and crumbly, add drops of water until it comes together.

After the dough has come together, I like to divide it into six portions.  That way I can work with smaller pieces of dough at a time.  The dough should rest in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.  Before rolling, you want the dough out at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, so it will roll out more easily.

I like to make a few test empanadas before I make the rest of them. Since I was making appetizer-sized empanadas, I used a 2 1/2 inch round cutter (I only had one with a scalloped edge; a straight edge is perfectly fine). I fried these at 370 degrees Fahrenheit for about 4 minutes.

I use my husband as a guinea pig to try them out.  I think he doesn't mind.  After I tasted one, I added a little more salt and some shredded Mexican cheese to the filling.

Now it's production time! I think the easiest and fastest way to do it is to roll out the dough and cut out all the disks.  Then place the filling in the center of the disks.  I use egg white to help seal the empanadas, so at this point, I will brush three or four of them at a time and then close them up as the egg white dries out pretty quickly. Finally, I crimp all of them at a time with a fork to make sure the edges are bound together. When you close the empanadas, make sure none of the filling has compromised the edge of the empanadas, as they won't fully seal that way and will open up during frying.

If you bake them, having perfectly sealed empanadas isn't as big as an issue.  After brushing them with an egg wash (an egg whisked with a little milk), I baked some as well at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.

Which one won in our house?  The fried.  But the baked ones are delicious too.

I brought both the baked and fried empanadas to my friend's house as an appetizer, serving them with a Barcelona Cookbook roasted red pepper sauce. They were a big hit!

Oh, and guess what I did the next day.  You got it -- beef empanadas with leftover skirt steak and pot roast.  These were just as yummy.  And I brought them to another friend's house as an appetizer.  Enjoy!

Barcelona Restaurant Empanada Dough
(Modified recipe from the Barcelona Cookbook)
Makes around 70 2 1/2 inch empanada disks

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbs. sugar
1/2 tbs. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 large egg 
1 egg yolk (save the egg white in another bowl to use in sealing the empanadas)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. water (I used 1/2 water and 1/2 vodka here)

In the bowl of the electric mixer with the dough hook or paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder on low speed until ingredients are well incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk (save the egg white in another bowl), and vinegar.

Add the egg mixture and melted, cooled butter to the flour and mix on low speed for one minute, until blended. Increase the speed to medium and add the water.  Mix for about two minutes to incorporate fully.  When the dough is ready, it will gather in one ball around the dough hook or paddle.  If it's not doing that and is wet,  add a little sprinkling of flour at a time until it comes together. If it's dry and crumbly, add a few drops of water at a time until it comes together.

Take the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured work surface and give it a few final kneads.  It will feel really soft and silky.  Divide into three portions.  Shape each into a rounded disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least four hours and up to three days. [Note, I refrigerated the dough for about 45 minutes, and I thought it was fine.]


Anonymous said...

Your empanadas look delicious. I've been making them for years. They are so good! Glad to see you made some.

Lorraine Joy Alegria-Vizcarra said...

The empanada looks great.