The Alternative Empanada, Vol 1: Chicken with Yellow Curry and Orange Sauce
Article by Kevin Vaughn, owner and taco mastermind at MASA
My test for whether an empanada place is good or not is the chicken empanada. I don’t care how good your carne al cuchillo game is, I don’t care if the picante is kinda sorta spicy, and I will not, I repeat will not, be wined and dined by fancy flavors like an empanada gallega or even a bondiola glaseada. If your chicken empanada tastes like a mouthful of sand I’M NOT COMING BACK. Unless of course you are Güimpis in which case I will follow you to the end of the earth no matter what you do.
I got started making empanadas in college after returning from my study abroad program. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon food, but then again any excuse for me to not go outside on a Sunday afternoon is perfect. But people quickly grew tired of jamón y queso and carne (no one ever got tired of a good humita) and so I began playing around with different flavors: pork with fried apples, chicken with enchilada sauce, and bbq sloppy joe. The empanada is the perfect format for experimenting – alongside pizza, sandwiches, tacos, or even sushi, the only thing you truly need is the shell. What you fill it with is up to you. The possibilities are endless.
These empanadas are slightly sweet with a nice spicy kick of curry, and of course, are super juicy and not at all dry and sandy. For the lazier foodies, this yellow curry and orange sauce will be used on our carnitas taco for MASA’s April menu.
You will need the following ingredients to make 12-15 empanadas.
- 2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 medium yellow onion, minced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, minced (removing seeds and vein optional)
- 1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 whopping spoonful of yellow curry paste
- 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
- 1 cup of orange juice
- vegetable oil
- 1/4 kg cherry tomato, halved
- 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- Your favorite empanada shells
First prep your ingredients and make sauce with the paste, coconut and juice. If you would like a nice creamy sauce I’d recommend coconut milk over shredded coconut. But anyone who has purchased coconut milk in Buenos Aires knows what indignation feels like and might opt for buying shredded coconut at the local dietetica for a fraction of the price. If you do opt for the milk make sure you make your sauce while listening to UGK’s Int’l Player’s Anthem cause that’s what you are right now.
In a frying pan, heat vegetable over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, remove from heat and reserve. Throw in the onion and cook until translucent and then add garlic and jalapeño until fragrant. Add cilantro and stir around. Now it’s time to incorporate the chicken and the sauce. Bring to a boil before lowering heat and simmering. Simmer for 20 minutes, shred chicken and cook 10 more minutes with cherry tomato and garbanzo beans.
This is where the all day part comes in because you are going to have to wait for all of this to cool before you stuff your tapas de empanadas. Otherwise the tapas are going to become too pliable and could tear apart. You can be patient and just wait or you can cheat and throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes. Once cooled put a good spoonful of filling in the shell. I chose La Salteña hojaldradas – hojaldradas are similar to a puff pastry. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I’ve noticed as of late that a lot of empanada shells are thinner than before which means that the hojas tear if you pack in too much filling. Who wants mini-empanadas? Crazy people, that’s who. I took two shells and smashed them together in order to have a stronger and larger shell.
Pack the filling into the shell, fold over and make your favorite repulgue – the cute little design that differentiates different flavors. Here is a guide!
Place on tray that has either parchment paper, foil or a good smattering of butter and cook for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown in an oven heated at about 350F. I say about 350F because ovens in this country do what they want.
What is your favorite alternative empanada? Share with us in the comments.