Cuban Chicken Empanadas

March 7, 2013

These tasty potato and chicken filled turnovers can be baked or fried. This chicken empanada recipe is adapted from Memories of a Cuban Kitchen by Mary Urrutia Randelman and Joan Schwartz. The filling can also be used in bocaditos, small savory sandwiches served on dinner roll-like bread.

Cuban Chicken Empanadas
Makes about 12 turnovers

For the filling:
1 large Russet potato
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups finely ground chicken
1/2 small sweet onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sweet peas, thawed if frozen
2 large hard boiled eggs, finely chopped
3/4 cup mayonnaise or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 large egg

To make the filling:
Peel and cube the potato. Place boiling salted water and cook until tender. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and onions and sauté until chicken is lightly browned, breaking up large pieces as it cooks. Drain and add to potatoes.

Add peas, chopped eggs and mayonnaise and mix until well-combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the dough:
Sift flour together with the baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry cutter or two knives. Add the sherry and egg and combine the ingredients with your fingers. Knead until the dough is smooth and stiff, holds together, and comes away from the sides of the bowl, adding a few drops of water if necessary.

Floud a work surface. Divide the dough into quarters and with a floured rolling pin roll out one quarter to a thickness of 1/8 inch, and, using a pastry cutter or the top of a glass, cut the dough into 4- to 4 1/2-inch circles. Place 1 tablespoonful of filling in the center of each pastry circle, moisten the edges with a finger dipped in water, fold the pastry into a semicircle, enclosing the filling, and crimp the edges with a fork to seal.  Repeat with the remaining three portions of pastry dough.

Place empanadas in deep-fryer for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown.

For a baked version: Preheat oven to 375F. Brush the tops of the pastries with a mixture of egg and water. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.