Aside from devouring my dinner last night, I really had nothing to do with this recipe. It’s my mom’s famous Spanish-style Empanada that she makes once a year for my dad’s birthday. He has proclaimed his undying love for Spanish-style Empanada and ordered it in every city in Spain when we were visiting. But I digress…
Unlike the more common South American and Latin American Empanadas, Spanish empanadas are baked like a chicken pot pie in a casserole dish and cut into squares for serving. Wikipedia says they’re usually filled with tuna, beef or chicken. My mom’s is made with chicken stewed with piquillo peppers, ham, onions, tomatoes, olives and chorizo. (Can you say yum?)
The thing that makes this Empanada different, is its slightly sweet crust. Instead of a simple tart or pastry shell, my mom makes a sweet, crumbly dough that contrasts nicely with the savory chicken filling. If you like a sweet/savory contrast, this dish is for you. Like a casserole, it’s a perfect make-ahead meal. Just pop it in the oven when your guests arrive and you’ve got an impressive, bubbling Empanada to warm you up on a cool evening.
I’m glad my mom finally wrote out the recipe for me. It’s one of those dishes that gets a rave review every time she makes it, and it’s time to share the love.
Mom’s Chicken Chorizo Spanish Empanada
You can make the dough and filling up to 3 days in advance. In fact, the flavors are better when the chicken has had a day or two in the fridge. Assemble and bake just before serving.
For the Dough:
4 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Crisco Vegetable Shortening
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
For the Filling:
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 medium yellow onions, diced
3 large boneless chicken breasts, diced
1/2 pound diced ham
2 cups chorizo, sliced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 cup pimento peppers (preferrably piquillo peppers), sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 15 oz. cans petite diced tomatoes
1 14 oz. jar green olives (the kind stuffed with pimentos), sliced
1/2 cup white wine
Make the dough. Whisk the dry ingredients together, then mix in the eggs and shortening until you get crumbs the size of peas (or dipping dots). You can use an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, or use your hands.
Place a large piece of plastic wrap on your work surface. Dump the dough crumbles onto the plastic wrap and knead into a cylinder. Tightly cover with another piece of plastic wrap, maintaining the cylindrical shape. Refrigerate for an hour or so.
While the dough cools, make the filling. Heat a large pot over medium. Once it’s hot, add the olive oil, onions, green pepper, garlic and tomatoes. Saute for 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chicken and ham and continue to saute until the chicken is almost cooked through.
Add the wine and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the chorizo, piquillo peppers and green olives. Cover and continue simmering for another 14 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until it comes to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap intil it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Once your dough is rolled out, transfer it into an ungreased casserole dish (we used a large, 8â€³ by 11â€³ and 3â€³ deep dish). Cover the bottom and sides with dough, pushing it up the sides with your fingers if needed.
Bake the bottom and sides for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and let come to room temperature. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
Add the filling to the casserole dish, then cover the top with the remaining dough (like a pie). Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with a big green salad.
Makes 10 – 12 servings (and delicious leftovers!)