Spicy Chicken Empanadas
Our empanadas are fried, but they may also be baked at 375 degrees for fifteen minutes. Stored in an airtight container, formed but uncooked empanadas can be frozen for up to one month.
- 1 whole chicken breast (1 pound), skin removed
- 1/2 white onion, halved
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 fresh poblano chile
- 6 cups (48 ounces) vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon) or regular cinnamon
- 4 canned plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, coarsely chopped
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted and coarsely chopped
- Empanada Dough
- 1/2 cup shredded queso blanco
- 1/4 cup sugar, for sprinkling
- Crema pura or sour cream, for serving (optional)
Make filling: Place chicken breast, half the onion, and the bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and poach until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; reserve 1 cup cooking liquid, and discard onion and bay leaf. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred meat from the bone with a fork; set aside.
Roast poblano chile directly over a gas flame, turning as each side blackens and blisters. (Alternatively, roast chile under the broiler.) Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap; let steam 10 minutes. Remove plastic wrap; peel off and discard blackened chile skin. Remove stem, seeds, and ribs; discard. Slice chile into 1/4-inch strips; set aside.
Finely chop remaining onion. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and garlic; saute until soft and translucent. Stir in cumin and canela; cook 1 minute. Add shredded chicken, tomatoes, chipotle, poblano, and reserved cooking liquid. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until liquid has thickened, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper; stir in cilantro and pepitas. Set aside to cool.
Make empanadas: Break off a 1 1/2-inch ball of empanada dough. On a clean work surface, roll dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out a round of dough. (Or use an inverted glass as a guide, cutting around it with a sharp paring knife.)
Place 1 teaspoon filling in center of each round; sprinkle with cheese. Using a pastry brush, moisten edges of dough with water; fold dough over to seal, pressing gently. Crimp edges with a fork; set aside. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather scraps and reroll. (Only do this once, to avoid toughening the dough.)
Pour remaining oil into a medium saucepan; oil should be 2 inches deep. Place over medium heat until oil reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Working with a few empanadas at a time to avoid overcrowding, fry until golden, turning once, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to drain on a paper-towel lined baking sheet. While still hot, sprinkle tops with sugar. Serve immediately with crema pura or cream on the side, if desired.