Natalie Morales' Empanadas
Natalie Morales shares her mother’s empanadas recipe
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
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    • Frozen empanada shells (look for them in the Spanish food section)
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (or ground sirloin, for meat empanadas)
    • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
    • 1 small can tomato paste
    • 2 cups chicken stock (if you make beef empanadas, use beef stock)
    • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
    • 1 small jar of Spanish olives
    • 1 large red potato, diced into small cubes
    • 1/2 cup raisins (these are optional, but I love the sweet with the salty combination)
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 2 teaspoons chili powder
    • Tabasco sauce, for extra kick (optional)
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl


  1. Thaw the empanada shells to room temperature.
  2. Prepare the empanada filling. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then place the chicken breasts in the pan. Brown on each side for about 5 to 6 minutes, and cook until the juices in the chicken run clear. Remove the chicken from the pan and allow to cool. Using two forks, pull apart the chicken to shred. Return chicken to the pan. Add the onions and brown. Add the tomato paste, chicken stock and red wine vinegar.  Add olives, diced potato and raisins. Season with oregano, chili powder and a dash or two of tabasco. Taste and season with salt and pepper and more chili powder if need be.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350.
  4. Assemble the empanadas. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle a dash of flour on the surface. Place a tablespoon or 2 of the filling in the middle of a shell. Use your finger to wipe the beaten egg on the outer edge of the shell (to keep the edges sticky). Fold over the shell, and seal the edges using a fork. Repeat with remaining shells. Brush the tops with the egg wash. On a clean baking sheet, bake the empanadas for about 20 minutes, or until the shells are nice and golden. (For more traditional empanadas you can fry them in canola oil until they bubble and are golden, then drain on a paper towel.) 

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Natalie cooks up mom’s delicious empanadas

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