Video: Natalie shares a family favorite: empanadas
Recipe: Chicken Empanadas
- For the shredded chicken:
- 3 pounds chicken thighs
- 1 onion, unpeeled
- 1 big bunch cilantro
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- For the picadillo:
- 1/4 cup achiote oil (recipe appears below)
- 1 cup sofrito (recipe appears below)
- 1/4 cup alcaparrado (olive slad)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Shredded chicken (from recipe above)
- 6 oz. frozen sweet ripe plantains (in the Goya frozen section), diced
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 packages frozen empanada discs (red)
- For the achiote oil:
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 heaping tablespoons of good quality achiote seeds
- For the sofrito:
- 2 large Spanish onions, trimmed and cut in large chunks
- 3 large Cubanelle peppers, trimmed and seeded
- 1 cup garlic cloves, trimmed
- 2 large sweet red bell peppers, trimmed and seeded
- 1 1/4 cup ajicitos dulces, trimmed
- 2 plum tomatoes, trimmed and cut in large chunks
- 4 culantro leaves
- 1 large bunch of cilantro, rinsed, dried, and roughly chopped
To make the achiote oil:
1. Pour the olive oil into a small saucepan, and add the achiote seeds at high heat, until to see the rim of the oil in the pan start to twinkle. Immediately lower the heat on the oil so you can control how fast you leach the color and flavor out of the seeds. When your oil reaches a brilliant orange color, turn the heat off.
2. Pass the oil through a fine sieve or chinois into a glass receptacle and let cool until ready for use.
NOTE: Achiote oil is not something you can put on the stove and walk away from; you must watch it very closely to monitor the process. If the heat is too high or you cook it too long, the oil will turn green, the seeds will turn black, and the whole thing will turn into a bitter mess. It must be discarded as it is not fit for use.
To make the sofrito:
1. Place the onion, Cubanelle peppers, and garlic in a food processor, and puree. With the motor running, add the sweet red bell peppers, ajicitos, and plum tomatoes. You make have to remove some of the puree into a bowl if you cannot fit the remaining ingredients into your work bowl.
2. Add the remaining culantro and cilantro and process until smooth. If you have removed some of the sofrito, combine the contents of the workbowl with the rest of the puree and stir to combine. Measure out in 1 cup measures into freezer bags and place in freezer to be used as necessary.
To prepare the empanadas and picadillo:
1. Put the chicken thighs, onion, cilantro, salt, bay leaves and peppercorns in a pot large enough to hold them comfortably. Pour in enough cold water to cover everything completely. Bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust the heat so the liquid is simmering and cook, skimming the foam and fat off the surface, until tender, about 30 minutes. As soon as it is cool enough to handle, shred the chicken coarsely, removing most but not all of the fat as you go. Reserve about 1 cup of chicken broth.
2. Make the picadillo: Heat the achiote oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the sofrito and cook, stirring, until the liquid is evaporated and the sofrito is sizzling. Stir in the alcaparrado, cumin, allspice, and cloves and stir for a minute or two. Stir in the shredded chicken until it is heated through and coated with seasonings. Continue cooking and stirring and pour 1/2 cup chicken broth and stir until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Add the diced sweet plantains and combine into the picadillo. Set the picadillo aside. The picadillo can be made up to 2 days in advance. Reheat over low heat, adding a little water if necessary, until warmed through.
3. Set an empanada disc in front of you, and place a heaping tablespoon off-center. Moisten the rim of the empanada disc with warm water and crimp with a fork or flute decoratively. Pan fry in 350 degree canola oil or bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot.
Recipe: Arugula pomegranate salad
- 5 ounce clamshell of baby arugula
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced thin
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 head Belgian endive
- 3/4 cups pomegranate seeds
- 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
- 1/4 cup salted roasted pepitas
- Cider vinegar
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Kosher salt and black pepper
1. Arrange the arugula on a flat platter. Toss the sliced apples, endive and the lemon juice together, and arrange on top of the arugula. Sprinkle the salad with the pomegranate seeds, cheese crumbles and pepitas.
2. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in a bowl and drizzle over the salad.
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