When I read that Rebecca at From Argentina with Love was hosting an Empanada of the month event, I couldn't not participate. I've written before about my abiding love of these savory pastry pockets, so it wasn't a question of if, but when? This was quite possibly the busiest week of the busiest month of the busiest year . . . you get the picture.
Eventually I puzzled out a way to multitask the empanadas into my schedule. My daughter was invited to a potluck event and needed a dish to share. Claro que si, I would make empanadas! Problem solved! Since there would be many other dishes served, I opted to go with a smaller size, and these empanaditas are what I ended up with.
The dough I used was a bit different than the pastry I typically go to for making empanadas, but I like it because it rolls out nicely and holds its shape well, useful for sculpting the tinier empanaditas. This pastry is also very easy to work with - if you're uneasy about working with pie dough, try this one, it really is "Never Fail."
Of course, you could purchase premade frozen empanada shells if you wish. But for the record, I tried this and was unable to get my hands on them. I'd heard from a reliable source (i.e., a native Argentinean) that they were perfectly acceptable, so I took my quest to save time to three different grocery stores before I finely decided to stop "saving time" and make my own dough.
I used a large biscuit cutter to shape the rounds, but feel free to use whatever you have - a glass, a dessert bowl, etc. If you prefer, you can make these full-size and serve them as an entree.
~from Alison Boteler's The Great American Bake Sale
3 cups all-purpose flour (I use unbleached)
1 teaspoon salt
11/2 cups shortening
1 tablespoon white vinegar
5 tablespoons ice water
Combine flour and salt and cut in shortening until the mixture forms crumbs.
In a small bowl, beat egg, vinegar, and ice water together with a fork. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the dough comes together.
To make the empanaditas, roll baseball-sized balls of dough out on a floured surface and cut with a biscuit cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet.
Wet rim of dough round with water, place a spoonful of filling in center, and place another round on top, aligning the edges. These empanaditas are too small to attempt to see with the repulgue method, so I just press the edges together, then crimp them with a fork.
Poke two sets of holes in the top with a fork to let the steam escape, brush them with a bit of beaten egg, sprinkle with chili powder if desired, and bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.
I had some leftover filling, so I made a few of full-size empanadas to freeze. These I sealed with the repulgue method, which I think is both more difficult and more fun than you'd imagine. (Practice make perfect, right?)
I like to serve these with a very simple salad and a dipping sauce of sour cream mixed with good salsa.