Chicken Empanadas

June 24, 2011 § 5 Comments

I like to think of these as chicken hand pies, or perhaps more like a chicken pot pie, but entirely contained and less soggy. They are so adaptable. The filling I used for this batch was fairly simple. It was mainly olives, chicken and onions but you could add anything. I think carrots and some celery would be a nice flavor addition. You could make a beef version with red wine instead of white. It is really a good way to use up some leftover in a creative fashion.

I was always hesitant of chicken empanadas when I lived in Nicaragua because I thought that sugar and meat should not go together. So I just bought the sweet empanadas instead–i’ll have to try to make some of those another time. There, the chicken or beef emapanadas contained raisins, along with the typical meat ingredients, and then they were coated in sugar. To avoid the sugary meat, I skipped the raisins and didn’t add any sugar to the top. It is a less authentic version but still delicious.

The last few times I have made this, I ended up making a simple gravy from the juices left in the pan. It makes for an amazing dipping sauce. Unfortunately I am terrible about writing down measurements and steps for something I improvise on the spot. Next time I make these I’ll be sure to write down what I did to make the sauce and then I’ll be sure to share it with you.

Chicken Empanadas

Adapted from Martha Stewart


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3/4 cup fine cornmeal, or masa harina
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 large egg yolks

2 lbs of cooked chicken, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
2 chilies, chopped finely (jalapenos are good here)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup chopped olives
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth


In a food processor, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Add butter; process 5 seconds. Add yolks and 3/4 cup water; process until dough is very soft, about 5 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead until smooth. Cover; let rest 30 minutes before using (why, I have no idea). If you don’t have a food processor simply add the ingredients in the same order, mixing often with a fork and then cut the butter into the mixture with two knives or a pastry blender until the pieces of butter are about the size of peas.

For the filling, sauté onions, garlic, chilies, and bay leaves in fat remaining in skillet two tablespoons of olive oil, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add paprika, olives, wine, and broth and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits. Add cooked chicken to skillet, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 10-15 minutes. Then remove from heat and let filling cool completely.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Divide dough into 18 equal piece, and form into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll each ball out into a small circle. Add a couple tablespoons of cooled filling to one side of the dough. Fold the other half of the dough over the filling and pinch the edges shut. Repeat until 18 empanadas have been made. Place on a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for about 25 minutes. Serve while still warm.

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§ 5 Responses to Chicken Empanadas

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