This recipe came about when I went to visit my sister and nephews in Seattle. I always cook with my nephews, but Hunter (10) had a very specific plan for us this trip; he wanted to make empanadas! My sister had a cookbook that she loved: Good and Cheap. This cookbook is about providing good quality meals for $4/day. We tweaked the recipe a little to add some meat, but glad we were able to make him happy.
Empanadas are a variety of version, like calzones, pierogis, etc. The original author added a little bit of cornmeal (not traditional), but we really like the added crunch. (We tried it with and without some, and it was definitely better with the cornmeal.)
This is a great recipe to make with kids, and who doesn’t love extra hands to help cook dinner!?!
1/2 stick butter
2 cups all purpose or whole wheat flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 cup cornmeal (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground pork (or other meat)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup seasoned tomatoes with green chilies (ex: salsa, rotel, etc.)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg (for the egg wash) and 1 tsp water. (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layer parchment paper on baking sheets.
Make the dough; Place the butter in the freezer for 10 minutes. In the meanwhile, mix the flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Grate the cold butter (or use the food processor), into the flour mixture. With your hands, kneed the butter gently into the flour.
In the flour mixture, make a crater and crack 1 egg in and add the cold water. Mix with your hands and create a dough ball. (if needed, add a little tablespoon of water.) Wrap ball with plastic wrap or cover it with a moist towel.
Make the filling: Saute onion and ground pork, breaking it up. (season with salt and pepper.) Add in seasoned tomatoes. Simmer until reduced and thick.
Dust a clean counter top lightly with flour (or we used cornmeal on the ones we didn’t put it into the dough on.) Unwrap the dough and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball with your hands, then a rolling pin to make into a thin circle (about 6 inches wide.) Place 1/12 of the filling on one half of the circle. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold over the side to form a half moon. Pinch the edges, or use a fork to make tight. Repeat until you’ve made 12 half moons.
If you’re using an egg wash: beat 1 egg and 1 tbsp water. Brush tops of empanadas with the egg wash (to make them shiny.)
Bake until empanadas turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.