Dish of the Week: Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas
Empanadas have endless possibilities. Make them baked or fried, sweet or savory.
Photo by Chris Perkins
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.
Empanadas, stuffed and fried bread or pastries, are popular all over the world, especially in southern Europe, Latin America, the U.S. Southwest and Southeast Asia. Deriving its name from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or to coat in bread, the pastry first appeared in medieval Iberia, mainly Galicia (Spain), Portugal and Llión, during the Moorish invasions. Along with the Italian calzone, it is believed to have been a derivative of the Indian samosa.
Tuna, sardines and chorizo are common Galician and Portuguese fillings, but today you'll find the street food filled with a variety of seafood, meat, cheese, vegetables and fruit.
This recipe, adapted from Gourmet, fills homemade pastry dough with dark-meat chicken, Spanish chorizo, green olives and golden raisins. The dough in this recipe is made for baking instead of frying, but feel free to fry away if you use a store-bought dough.
Chicken Empanada With Chorizo, Raisins & Olives yields 12 empanadas
For the dough: 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (can swap ¼ cup for whole wheat flour if desired) 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 large egg 1/3 cup ice water 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
For the filling: 3 whole chicken legs, including thighs (2 to 2 1/4 lb total) 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 4 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2 large onions, chopped 2 large garlic cloves, minced 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California 1/3 cup Spanish chorizo, diced (cured spiced pork sausage; 1 1/2 oz; casings discarded) 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (not hot) 1/4 cup pitted green olives, chopped 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
For baking: Parchment paper and cooking spray
For the dough: In a large bowl, sift flour and salt. Use fingertips or a pastry blender to combine until mixture is coarse, with pea-size lumps of butter distributed throughout.
In a small bowl, beat together egg, water and vinegar. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until just incorporated.
Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gather together in the center. Use the heel of your hand to gently knead the dough until it is holding together. Form dough into a flat rectangle, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled for as long as 6 hours.
For the filling: Pat chicken legs dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Add onions, garlic and bay leaves, cooking until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in olives, wine and broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Return chicken and juices to pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Turn chicken once during this time.
Transfer chicken to a clean plate. At this point, the sauce in skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if it's not, simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely shred or chop the meat. Add chicken back to sauce and discard bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool, about 30 minutes.
Forming & Baking: Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°.
Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Keeping the remaining pieces covered with a towel, roll out dough into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling into center and fold dough in half, enclosing the filling. Press the edges together, crimping to seal. Transfer to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper; then repeat until all empanadas are made. *Note: You will likely have extra filling. You can double the pastry recipe to make more empanadas and freeze the remaining dough or save the extra filling to serve over rice or potatoes.
Lightly brush the empanadas with egg wash, spray the tops with cooking spray and bake, turning the sheet halfway through cooking, until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
See more Dishes of the Week: Dish of the Week: Coq Au Vin Dish of the Week: Argentine Chimichurri Dish of the Week: Flourless Chocolate Cake Dish of the Week: New England Clam Chowder Dish of the Week: Beef Stroganoff Dish of the Week: Hushpuppies Dish of the Week: Irish Soda Bread Dish of the Week: Pastitsio Dish of the Week: Chicken Tikka Masala Dish of the Week: The Cuban Sandwich
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.