Wednesday, 11 April 2012

On Empanadas

I am obsessed with all kinds of savoury hand pies --- empanadas, Jamaican patties, cornish pasties, pot pies, boreks, turnovers, Aussie pies. I love them all! There is nothing as comforting as biting into a flaky, browned crust and sinking one’s teeth into a hunk of savoury filling.

I grew up on Red Ribbon’s Empanadas ---- those small, sort of crusty pies with the traditional pinoy filling of chicken, potatoes and raisins. While I have tasted better versions of empanadas, there is something about Red Ribbon’s tiny empanadas that remind me so much of home, of Pinas and of family. So almost always, when I go back to K, I bring a boxful of its empanadas to comfort me and remind me of home.

Because I love empanadas so much, it is but proper to learn how to make them right? Yes, but as the famous blogger MM said in his own forays into empanada making, the road to empanada nirvana is paved with disaster. I personally do not like fried empanadas unless it’s the Ilocos Empanada kind, so all my empanada forays where of the baked kind.

My first attempt at empanada making was more than four years ago while I was living in London . It sucked bigtime, the crust was hard, brittle with the mouthfeel of crackers. But a friend, who I suppose was both being solicitous and happy for the free food, said that the filling was delicious. I remember it was a chicken a la king filling---breast cubes, carrots, peas and celery in a cream based gravy. Mind you, I had no ambition of becoming the empanada queen. All I wanted was to be able to make empanadas that I would love to eat. I wished for a buttery and reasonably flaky crust. One that could stand as a delicious background to my crazy fillings.

After nearly a dozen attempts at baking empanadas I think I’ve nailed my own personal empanada baking technique. My empanadas are still rustic (i.e. homemade looking and do not look all too uniform) but that’s okay. I bake empanadas for personal happiness not for profit haha. And the process of making them has become a ritual which I go through at least twice a year. Though in itself, empanada making isn’t hard. You need time on your hands to allow the dough to rest. And so I only embark on baking my favorite food/snack/pie in the world when I have a lot of free time.

And today being a holiday, with the shop’s preorders closed, it was a perfect time to embark on a baking adventure ☺

All you need is flour
I mix the flour with nothing but butter, ice water and when I feel like it, throw in a mishmash of seasoning powders and herbs to add a zing to the crust. I let the batter rest in the refrigerator for at least two hours though if I have time, like today, I personally like to leave my crust in the ref for at least 6 hours. The crust becomes easier to handle if you leave it in the refrigerator longer.

The Filling: As you like it
I made beef picadillo the other night ~ beef, spices, potatoes, onions, bell peppers and stewed tomatoes and lots of chili powder, and this became my empanada filling.

Now is the fun part, roll out your crust, make it into any shape you want and fill them with fillings. I like mine in the traditional halfmoon shape.

Fifteen minutes in the oven, and I get my reward--- a delicious empanada dinner ☺


What about you, do you love hand pies and empanadas too? :D

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