Broccoli and Cheddar Empanadas
Hot, fresh, flaky, gooey empanadas are one of my favorite late-night exhaustion dinners. We have a great empanada place in the ‘hood so it’s taken me a while to bother trying to make them at home.
The big advantage to home-made empanadas is that the filling is up to you! Traditional empanada fillings tend to be meaty, like ground beef, pork, spicy chicken or chorizo – tasty indeed! – but maybe not so great for every day. Just like home-made pizza and calzones, these are an awesome way to use up leftovers or the weird random bits left in your fridge from other meals.
The dough is a simple pastry dough, and once you learn how to make it the hard part is done. The rest is just throwing whatever you like inside, sealing it up and baking. Although fried empanadas are great, baked ones are a little simpler to make at home since you don’t have to mess around with hot oil.
Today I made broccoli and cheddar because I’ve just had a thing for broccoli lately. Be sure to use a strong aged cheddar so you can really taste it. Give them a try sometime!
- 2 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter (one stick)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup water (cold)
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 8 cups broccoli chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp chile flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups cheddar cheese grated
- 1 egg (for brushing)
- In a large mixing bowl add the flour, cornmeal and salt. The cornmeal is not traditional, I just like the extra crunch it gives, so you can substitute more wheat flour for the cornmeal if you like. Mix it up.
- Place the butter in the freezer for 10 minutes. Take it out and grate the butter directly into the flour mixture. Wash and dry your hands, then crumble the butter into the flour until it looks like bread crumbs.
- In a small bowl add the egg, water, and cider vinegar. Mix it with a fork. Add it to the dough and mix it until it just comes together.
- Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour and dump the dough onto it. Gently and quickly bring the dough together to form a disc. If it is extremely dry sprinkle it with a bit of water. If you are using whole wheat flour sometimes the dough requires a bit more moisture. Wrap your dough disc in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about an hour. During this time the egg will release more of its moisture and the dough will be smoother and more uniform in texture when you use it.
- Alternatively, you can use the food processor to make the dough. First add the flours, pulse briefly, then cut up the butter into 8 pieces or so and add them. Pulse briefly until the flour and butter look crumbly. Then add the egg, vinegar and water and run the machine until the dough just seems to come together. Dump it out onto a floured surface and proceed with the recipe just as above.
- In a saucepan on medium heat, add the broccoli. It might seem like a lot, but it will cook down and lose some of its volume. Add about 1 cup of water and cover with a lid. Let it cook for 2 minutes then add the chile flakes, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss it around to mix and cover again for another 2 minutes. Remove the lid and let the water cook off. Stick a fork in a piece of broccoli and if it goes in easily it's done. If not, cook for a bit longer.
- Let the broccoli cool and then add it to a bowl with the grated cheese. Mix it up.
- Turn the oven to 400 F.
- Prepare a baking pan by lining it with parchment paper, or use a silicone baking mat if you have one.
- Take the dough out of the fridge. Divide it into 12 equal pieces and roll them each into balls. On a clean countertop dusted lightly with flour, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a thin, flat circle. Add a mound of filling to one half of the dough and then flip half the dough over the filling to form a half moon. Pinch the edges shut. If you want to get fancy you can try crimping the dough, but so long as it's closed it'll cook just fine.
- In a small bowl beat an egg with a fork.
- Place the empanadas on the baking pan. Once you have finished assembling them brush them with the egg wash you made and then sprinkle them with a little bit of kosher salt if you have it. This is entirely optional!
- Place them into the oven and let them bake for 15 minutes or until they turn golden brown. Eat them hot with whatever sauce you like. Chimichurri sauce is the best, so I’ll have to share that with you another time.