Chicken Empanadas with Ancho Chili Sauce

For my one year anniversary and 200th post, I wanted to make something yummy and special, but I didn’t want to have to run to the store to get all new ingredients. Craig has been begging me for months to make empanadas, he recently discovered them at our local Peruvian restaurant and fell in love, so I figured tonight was the night. Empanadas are small stuffed pastries or breads that can be baked and fried. They feature prominently in most Latin American cuisines and are a popular and delicious street food. You can stuff them with almost anything, but it is usually a combination of meat, potatoes and vegetables.

I decided to make a Mexican inspired healthy empanada, using some of the fantastic dried chillies I picked up in Texas this weekend. My awesome Grandpa Joe took me down to the Supermercado near his house and I stocked up on lots of exotic dried chilies and spices. It is so hard to find authentic Mexican ingredients up in Boston, so I was in heaven. Everything in the store looked and smelled sooo fantastic. So, to go with my empanadas, I decided to make a spicy ancho chili sauce.

These empanadas are certainly not traditional. I made a bunch of substitutions to make them healthier. I used whole wheat flour, cut way down on the traditional butter and lard, and filled them with lean chicken breast and fiber-filled pinto beans. Instead of deep frying them, I just baked them until they got nice and crispy.

Full recipe and photos after the jump!

INGREDIENTS:

Dough:
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, cut into chunks
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp vinegar
1/3 cup cold water
flour for rolling and kneading dough

Filling:
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 cup black or pinto beans, rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth (or veggie)
1 tsp dried cilantro

Sauce:
2 large dried ancho chillies
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp mexican oregano (or regular)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup low sodium chicken broth (or veggie)
1 tsp cumin

Dough Instructions:
1. Combine flour, salt and butter in a mixing bowl, beat by hand or with an electric mixer for 2 minutes until crumbly
2. Whisk together egg, vinegar and water, combine with flour mixture
3. Beat until crumbly
4. Need by hand on a flour surface until dough is firm and slightly sticky
5. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 45-60 minutes

INSTRUCTIONS:

Sauce Instructions:
1. Remove stems and seeds from chilies

2. Soak chilies in a bowl filled with boiling water until softened, 15-20 minutes

3. Add chilies, onion, garlic and 1/3 cup of soaking water to a blender and puree until smooth

4. In a medium saucepan, saute pureed chili mixture in olive oil 3-4 minutes

5. Add tomato paste, vinegar, broth, oregano and cumin

6. Whisk together to combine

7. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced, 20-25 minutes

Filling Instructions:
1. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil on medium heat, 3-4 minutes

2. Cut chicken breasts into 2-3″ chunks

3. Brown chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes on each side until cooked through

4. Remove chicken from stove, place in a mixing bowl and shred chicken with forks

5. Add shredded chicken, beans, broth and cilantro to pot

6. Add two tablespoons of chili sauce and mix

7. Simmer on low heat, covered, until it’s time to fill the empanadas

Empanada Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 375

2. Flour the rolling surface

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and separate into approximately 8 balls

4. Roll each ball in flour, flatten and roll out to 1/4″ thickness with a rolling pin

5. Using a round cookie cutter or bowl, cut dough into 4-5″ diameter circles

6. Fill dough with 1-2 tablespoons of filling mixture, leaving a small edge around the dough

7. Fold dough over filling and pinch seams to create a half moon shape

8. Fill each empanada, spread evenly on a greased cookie sheet

9. Lightly brush each empanada with egg wash

10. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until browned and crisp

11. Remove and serve with chili sauce

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5 Responses to Chicken Empanadas with Ancho Chili Sauce

  1. Balvinder Ubi January 18, 2012 at 3:41 am #

    200 th post deserved something special! the empanadas look delicious and I am just salivating at the look of sauce.

  2. Yummy January 18, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Loved the bowl cutter idea! Congrats!

  3. Suzi January 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    These look great. I've never made empanadas but they sound delicious. Love that chili sauce.

  4. PolaM January 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    These empanadas look delicious! Perfect for celebrating!

  5. Kim Bee January 21, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    I have never eaten or made empanadas. But I so am going to now. Thanks for showing me the light Dara!

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