I realize that empanadas are not at all Southwestern (more Latin American), but I thought that it would be nice to have a little hand pie before our posole dinner last week. Various countries have their own version (think Cornish pasties or Italian panzerotti) and you can certainly put your own spin on this recipe. There are endless possibilities for fillings. I wanted mine to be vegetarian, but I could have added chorizo or chicken or spiced ground beef to these rather than mushrooms.
The empanadas can be served warm or at room temperature and although it’s not traditional, we enjoyed them with a little bit of salsa. I think that next time I’ll use this same buttery dough with an Italian type filling-maybe with ricotta, tomato and sausage. I’ll keep you posted!
Mushroom and Potato Empanadas
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
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
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled Panela cheese
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 pound yellow-fleshed potato such as Yukon Gold (1 large)
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Add onions to saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and very soft, about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, red bell pepper, salt, and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, until peppers are very soft, about 15 minutes.
Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, then stir into onion mixture and cook over moderately low heat, covered, stirring frequently, until potatoes are just barely tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool filling to room temperature, remove bay leaf and add crumbled cheese.
Form and bake empanadas:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces and form each into a disk. Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick).
Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make 11 more empanadas in same manner, arranging on 2 baking sheets.
Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.