TODAY   |  February 07, 2013

Natalie shares a family favorite: empanadas

TODAY’s Natalie Morales recalls the fond childhood memories she associates with empanadas, and chef Daisy Martinez gives a lesson in cooking up the Latin American treat, stuffed with flavorful shredded chicken.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning we're kicking off a new series, "today's" melting pot where we share great dishes with family memories that have significance for us. we want to urge you to create your own. i'm kicking off telling about one of my favorite dishes, empanada . for my family empanada has been a tradition from my grandmother making empanada 's in puerto rico to my own mother's version as they have been passed on and passed on. what's great, they are an appetizer. at the same time it's filling. it can almost be a stand alone meal. the kids love them. that's a selling point. wherever you go, south america , latin america , caribbean, every country has a version of the empanada , whether it's more sweet and savory, more of a corn casing on the outside. you can usually tell where you are based on the empanada . latin families were known for big family gatherings. any holiday meal, generally the centerpiece of that meal are empanadas. to me cooking and sharing family recipes is about history. my kids always see me cooking. when they grow up they will think of the smells and memories. i think it's something i'm always conscious of.

>> and for our cooking lesson today we brought in the true expert cookbook author and host, daisy martinez . good to have you here with my favorite recipe. you have your own special memory of empanada .

>> everyone does, what mommy does, abuela.

>> you say you like it, the pie on the fly.

>> it's like little frozen things. you can put anything in it, anything. something as humble and cheddar cheese , nothing you can't put in an empanada .

>> chicken empanada . you start prosecute sofrito.

>> aromatic, onions and garlic.

>> buy that in the grocery, goya section.

>> or make your own.

>> i've seen it ready made.

>> shredded chicken, left over chicken. i saute sofrito in garlic oil. pretty red seeds you steam in olive oil gently. what is this?

>> spanish olives. it's nice. you have like a sweet and savory take as well on empanadas like you do. i put raisins, you put these, which is really cool. they come frozen.

>> a slice, dies, cumin, clove, a nice spice. cook that down. ends up with --

>> the filling.

>> make a little shell . sure. some make them from scratch. but you really can buy them ready made.

>> i'd rather cheat on this than on the sofrito, because you're able to control the flavor more. you want to wet the rim, right?

>> yeah.

>> we can either crimp it like you did yours with a fork or make a pretty flute.

>> all ingredients are becoming more readily available, with the spanish population.

>> i was in portland, maine. i went to the supermarket, they had seven different kinds. it was unbelievable.

>> this is a great appetizer, as i said.

>> a snack.

>> you can do the fork method. you fry yours. i like to bake.

>> you have the option.

>> those look delicious. they cook very quickly, which is great. a golden brown .

>> you know what, i used to like to make empanadas for the kids when they got home from school, with a little juice.

>> healthy snack.

>> put veges in there. clean out the refrigerator and make empanadas.

>> you can freeze them, too.

>> just like this.

>> you put them on a sheet tray or in baggies, wrapped in wax paper , absolutely delicious.

>> right before a big event, pop them in the oven. you're good to go. i have to dig in here. you have this great salad.

>> arugula, green apple .

>> amazing.

>> aren't they beautiful.

>> i'm going to do that. i'm stealing your recipe.

>> i'm sharing it with you.

>> by the way, you can do meat, anything.

>> vegetarian, cheese, potatoes, whatever you like.

>> fantastic. thanks for kicking off our series for us.

>> thank you for having me, natalie.