If you love your family, you'll make them empanadas.

First, let me get a few things out of the way. A) I am one of the luckiest girls alive, for several reasons, not the least of which is my collection of Friends That Can Cook. B) The content I bring you today is not mine. I cannot claim these recipes. This is all Lindsey. I was simply there to help, taste, assist, shoot photos, and have wine.

Luckily, my friends are down with me stealing their best creations and publishing them here, for all the world to see. Thanks, guys.

Okay, now that I've given credit where credit is due, let's dive into this project. Lindsey called me recently and said "Come over. We're making empanadas." Who was I to argue? I loaded the toddler into the car, called Mr. Meat and Potatoes and told him to meet us over there after work for dinner, and flew over there as fast as the speed limit would allow.

People, I'm still thinking about these empanadas, and tonight would not be soon enough to eat them again. Seriously. I will admit up front that it's kind of an arduous process, and would not qualify for Rachael Ray as a 30 Minute Meal, but some things you just have to accept. This is one of those things. You want the empanada, you work for it. AND IT IS WORTH IT. Carve out the time, have a friend or two over to help, and DO THIS.

Lindsey gets her Mexican recipes right from the source. You might say she has a Mexican grandma, except she doesn't. But she knows one. To make a perfect empanada wrapper, follow this recipe. Do not waver, do not be tempted to take a short cut. I am a big fan of short cuts, but trust me on this - don't do it here.

Perfect Empanada Wrappers

4 cups of flour
1-2 teaspoons salt
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
12 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
3/4 - 1 cup water
2 egg yolks

*NOTE: This is for one batch. We made two batches that day, to accomodate all the different fillings we had planned.

Mix flour salt and sugar together. Cut in butter and lard. Add egg yolks and water a little at a time.

Make the dough into manageable sized balls for rolling out, maybe the size of a baseball or slightly larger.

Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes. (While they refrigerate, start your fillings.)

Roll them out, but not too thin. Remember, this is a crust and it's got to not only hold some heavy-duty filling, but it also has to withstand the frying process. You don't want this thing delicate or paper-thin.

Use a large-ish plastic lid, maybe the size of a large sour cream container or a Cool-Whip container to cut out the circles.

Set them aside for future filling.

Meanwhile, you should have been creating your fillings. One of the beauties of the empanada is that you can put just about anything in there. Let your imaginations soar.

Lindsey had decided on that particular night to do some with bacon, onion, mushrooms, and goat cheese, and some with chicken and fresh tomatoes. I had some left over pork from tacos, so I brought that and some cheese as well. People, really.

Bacon, Musroom, Goat Cheese Filling
6 slices of bacon
8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped
4-6 ounces of goat cheese
half an onion

Combine everything but the cheese until the bacon is cooked and the onions are translucent.

Then add in the goat cheese and melt to coat.

Chicken, Tomato, and Onion Filling
3 large boneless chicken thighs, cut up in pieces
1 large fresh tomato, chopped 1 cup shredded cheddar 2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
a dash of onion powder
a dash of garlic powder
cayenne pepper to taste (it only takes a tiny bit)
half an onion, chopped
salt and pepper

In a saucepan with a little oil, cook the chicken and onion with the spices until the onion is translucent and the chicken is completely cooked.

Add the cheese and tomatoes when you fill - don't cook them in.

Add a couple of tablespoons of filling. Don't overfill or they'll burst.

Pinch the edges together tightly. You can use a fork to score along the edges if you so desire, but it's not necessary.

Heat oil in a deep pan to 350 degrees. Fry the empanadas on one side until they're golden brown.

Then flip them over and fry the other side.

Don't crowd them. As they are cooked, set them aside and start another batch.

We ate ours with chips, black beans, and a little cheese sauce, because let's face it, everything is better with cheese sauce.

If that all weren't enough, we also whipped up some dessert empanadas.

Banana Nutella Filling
4 bananas
1 cup strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
granular sugar for coating the outside after frying

Combine the bananas and nutella in the food processor with the powdered sugar. Then add in the berries and fill.

That thing, that little fried bundle of banana and Nutella? I want to have its babies. I want to sleep with one under my pillow.

If you love your family or friends, if you care enough about them to give them what can only be described as Love on a Plate, you will make these for them. Carve out the time. Make them for a football watch party, a birthday, a graduation or anniversary. Or just make them on a random Tuesday, like we did. Whatever the case, it's worth it.

If there is someone in your life whom you would like to marry, I suggest you make these for that person, and right away. They'll be powerless to you.


linswri 11 years, 6 months ago

I can't share my mexican grandma, but I can share her recipes. :) Miss Rita would be proud!

11 years, 6 months ago

howdy megan, looking good! how far in advance can i make the dough? hours? days?

Megan Green Stuke 11 years, 6 months ago

Lesticia - that's a good question.

And here's my not-so-good answer.

Definitely you can make the dough hours in advance, possibly even a day or so if you keep it snugly covered.

It's basically like a pie crust, so you can treat it the same way you'd treat traditional pie crust. That said, I have been known to make pie crusts, roll them out, and freeze them between two sheets of parchment in a freezer bag. They come out great.

If you freeze a dough ball, you'll have to thaw (of course) and I'm not sure how well it will roll after that, having never tried it, but I see no reason why it wouldn't be okay.

Lindsey says that temperature is important. You want to chill your dough before using so it's not "melty" when you roll it out. That said, you also won't be able to take it from the fridge and just start rolling, you'll need to let it warm up just a little to be pliable.

Does this make sense or help at all? I hope so!

MisterBooster 11 years, 6 months ago

Mister Booster thinks these empanadas sound delicious! Megan and Lindsey, could you please make some mouse empanadas for Mister Booster?

11 years, 6 months ago

thanks megan i think i got the idea, you're awesome, still waiting for your cheesy potatoes recipe! ;-)

Megan Green Stuke 11 years, 6 months ago

Which one would that be? They are as varied as the stars in the sky... ;)

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