Wednesday, April 8 is National Empanada Day. Empanadas are truly wonderful because of the infinite possibilities for delicious fillings. Have you ever been to Nonna’s Empanadas at the LA Farmers Market at the Grove? That kitchen puts out all kinds of empanadas, both savory (beef, carnitas, cheeseburger, samosa-style) and sweet (banana, nutella, dulce de leche).
Celebrity chef Carla Hall (Top Chef, The Chew) has a easy recipe for first-time empanada bakers with a cream cheese dough and a vegetarian black bean picadillo filling that will tantalize your taste-buds! Try it out with us?
What You’ll Need:
- 1 cup All-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
- Kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 4 ounces could cream cheese, cut into 1-inch dice
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 2/3 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground Mexican chiles, such as ancho
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- One 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
For the dough:
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. With your hands, toss the butter and cream cheese in the flour mixture until each piece is lightly coated.
- With the paddle, beat on low speed until the dough forms a loose mass around the paddle.
- Gently pat the dough into a 1-inch thick rectangle on a large sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap it lightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours, before rolling. You can refrigerate the dough for up to 1 day or freeze it for up to 3 months.
For the filling:
- In a small bowl, cover the raisins with the hot water. Let soak.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the ground chiles and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the beans, corn and raisins with their soaking liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Cool completely, then stir in the cheese and the cilantro if using.
For the empanadas:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a lightly floured 5-inch round cutter to cut out 5 rounds. Gather the scraps, reroll and cut out 3 more rounds.
- To form an empanada: Put 2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of a dough round. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and form a half-moon. Pinch the edges together to seal them, and create a 1/2-inch rim. Pinch one corner between your thumb and forefinger and fold it over the rim. Pinch the dough next to the fold and fold again. Continue pinching and folding to create a decorative rope rim. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Transfer the empanadas to the baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown and heated through, about 30 minutes. Let cool on a pan and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
If you want your empanadas to have a glossy top, brush with an egg wash before baking, but caution: the crust might not be as crisp. Leaving out the egg wash, alternatively, will give you a rustic look with a nicely browned crust.