I’m warning you right now. Do not mess with my empanada. I mean don’t touch it, don’t ask for a bite, in fact, don’t even look at it. And, do not blow my zen by talking to me while I’m eating one. My empanada and I want to be alone.
Chugging along with pumpkinpalooza 2012, I still had left half of the fresh pumpkin I used to make my rustic apple-pumpkin pie. Tired of pie and sweets, I wanted to take my pumpkin for a savory stroll.
Soup? Nah. Gnocci? Not in the mood. Empanadas have been fermenting in the back of my brain for a while, and today seems like the perfect time to give them a go.
This filling is the sort of pulling-it-out-of-the-hole kind of cooking that I often find myself in the middle of. I don’t really plan it that way, but it is how I clean out the fridge, use up the byproducts of an earlier project, or switch it up midstream when a recipe I’m following just doesn’t excite me the way I thought it would.
What I’m saying is this: you may not have all the precise ingredients I used, but don’t be afraid to substitute. I realize you may not have recently rendered lard making a bag full of cracklins a convenient ingredient, but bacon, shredded pork or chicken or even sausage will be just fine.
As would leaving out the meat altogether. And black beans? Well, they’re not in here, but I was certainly wishing I had a can or two. They’d be perfect and would stretch the filling further.
Empanadas are one of the original fast foods. I’m always so amazed by the ways many different cultures arrive at a basic idea around the same time then execute it in such a variety of ways. Empanadas are like that – to get an idea of just how diverse and multi-cultural they are, see what Wikipedia has to say.
See what I mean? Empanadas are just begging for improvisation…
I’ve been on an unofficial dough exploration mission recently, and for my empanadas Smitten Kitchen’s enthusiasm for this particular dough won me over. Since Smitten Kitchen turned me on to my very favorite homemade pop-tart dough, I took her enthusiasm pretty seriously.
Turns out, once again SK was right on. I love this dough. Since I opted to bake rather than fry my empanadas, this dough delivered the perfect flaky, slightly crispy texture, yet was sturdy enough to keep the insides inside.
The filling is a total mashup of influences; Rick Bayless, Patricia Quintana, Pam Corbin’s carmelized onion marmalade and goodness knows who else. My brain is truly a gathering spot for all sorts of information both useful and ridiculous.
One last thing: if you’re going to make a few empanadas, why not make a lot? They freeze extremely well before baking and are a welcome treat to have on hand when you need some real food real fast.
Puts those cardboard Hot Pockets to shame….