Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken Empanadas

Empanadas make me think of Pepsi. I don't even drink Pepsi.

Well, my mom used to be a huge Pepsi fan. So, growing up, I was a Pro-Pepsi, loved the sweetness, hated the way the Coke carbonation felt. It didn't seem to go down as smooth, in my mind. Over time, mom started buying less Pepsi, and then my school's dining hall was serviced by Coke. I was introduced to Coke Zero and I've converted. I've crossed-over. I'm a coke girl, now.

So, why do empanadas remind me of Pepsi? Not too long ago, Pepsi's ad campaign (perhaps specific to the Spanish channels) featured a commercial where a boy is at a party and tries to bite into a tamal without removing the husk. He then, after meeting a pretty girl and drinking some Pepsi, learns how to properly eat one. Maybe they dance, maybe they fall in love, who knows, it's a really short ad. At the end, he's about to chow down on an empanada, but he's no fool, he's not to be tricked again by foreign foods. He tries to "open" the pastry shell before digging in. Leaving the girl hopelessly shaking her head at him.

I didn't grow up eating empanadas, even though I'd hear about them constantly. Week 28 of the baking challenge was to make a South American food, and I was in the mood to bake something savory.

While I may not have chosen the most traditional of recipes, I did pick one that featured ingredients I could easily get a hold of. The prep was relatively easy.

Once baked, the empanadas seemed to lack sauce, so I would definitely serve them with salsa. I wouldn't adjust the filling recipe, as there was plenty to go around. Maybe even too much, (which wasn't a problem for me, as I just turned the rest of the filling into chimichangas).

Chicken Empanadas
slightly adapted from FoodNetwork

3 cups cooked chicken, cut into small cubes
4 oz. Colby cheese, shredded
4 oz. Pepper Jack cheese, shredded
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined and chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 (15 oz) package of refrigerated pie crusts
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the chopped chicken with the cream cheese, shredded cheese, chopped bell pepper, jalapeno, and spices. Mix well.

On a lightly floured surface, unroll one of the pie crusts. Cut out rounds, using a 3" cookie cutter. (I found I could get 8 circles out of a pie crust before re-rolling). Repeat procedure with 2nd pie crust, and roll scraps together to cut out more 3" circles. Arrange circles on the prepared baking sheet.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the chicken mixture onto each 3" circle.

Dip your finger into the water and trace the edges of the dough circle. Fold dough over, and seal shut with the tines of a fork. Repeat with the remaining circles of dough and chicken mixture. (At this point, the empanadas can now be frozen for up to a month.)

Beat the large egg and brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash. Bake on the prepared sheet, (I could fit 8 at a time), for 15 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through.

Serve with your favorite salsa, and, if you're looking to eat them as a meal, a side of rice and beans.

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