Puerto Rican “Hot Pockets”–Empanadillas

Empanadillas are the Puerto Rican version of empanadas, a stuffed pastry popular in Spain, Portugal, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Philippines.  They are made by folding a thin circular-shaped dough patty over filling creating the typical semicircular shape. Fillings might include beef, ham, chicken, fish, cheese or fruit.  They can be baked or fried.

The name empanada, comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. They are served as an appetizer/tapas, side dish or dessert.  In any form, they’re crisp and delicious.

(Liberally adapted from recipes by Carmen Aboy Valldejuli and Yasmin Hernandez)

Ingredients

Dough:  (Makes 12 empanadillas)

3 cups all purpose flour

½ t baking soda

½ t baking powder

1 t salt

¼ cup peanut or vegetable oil

1 cup warm water

½ t achiotina* (optional for color)

Filling:

2 T olive oil

1 lb ground beef

½ medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ small jalapeno, minced

½ sweet pepper, diced

1/8 cup pimiento stuffed green olives, sliced

2 T sofrito**

1/8 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 T tomato paste

1 pkg. Goya Sazon with annatto

½ t salt

¼ t freshly ground black pepper

Cooking: 4 cups vegetable or peanut oil for deep frying

Procedure (for dough)

Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade. Pulse briefly.  Add vegetable oil and up to 1 cup water until the dough comes together. Remove dough and knead for 2-3 minutes. Let rest in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.  Divide into 12 pieces and then roll into 4-inch round disks.

Filling: Brown ground beef in olive oil.  Drain off excess fat. Add remainder of ingredients and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat stirring from time to time.  Let cool. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in each round of dough, fold over and crimp with the tines of a fork to seal tightly.

Deep frying:  Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet to 350 degrees.  Deep fry a few at a time until golden brown.  Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on brown paper or paper towels.  Drain on both sides.  Be sure to bring temperature of oil back up to 350 degrees before adding another batch of empanadillas. Enjoy your special treat!

*achiotina is lard in which a few annatto seeds have been fried and then strained out.

**Basic Sofrito

1 t olive oil

1 garlic clove, chopped

¼ cup chopped tomato

¼ cup chopped onion

3-4 stem and leaves cilantro

1/8 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/8 cup chopped red bell pepper

Grind and pound ingredients in a pilon (mortar and pestle)

(Leftover sofrito can be stored in a glass jar in the refrigerator).

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell

 

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