April 8, 2015

Celebrate National Empanada Day!

As a member of an Austin culinary arts program, we hope you are spending some time getting out into the community to try food from all over the world and see what you can learn from different chefs’ techniques. Today, April 8th, is National Empanada Day. With your close proximity to Mexico and many amazing Latin restaurants, you have awesome opportunities to try these stuffed pastry-dough treats at any time. Here’s what you need to know about empanadas:

What is an empanada?
Empanadas are also known as turnovers or pasties. These small delights are made from pastry dough and whatever fillings you enjoy. They can be eaten for any meal, including dessert, and filled with just about any topping, savory or sweet. The outside is crispy and should be golden brown. Some people prefer to fry them and others like them baked. Often, empanadas are dipped in a sauce that coordinates with the filling to add some extra flavor.

Savory empanada recipes
If you are looking to celebrate National Empanada Day at home, try making these savory recipes. They can be great appetizers or make up an entire meal.

  • Laylita’s choriqueso empanadas are made with chorizo and cheese. We like the idea of dipping these fried or baked bites in creamy avocado or hot sauce. What a great appetizer, snack or entire meal. Empanadas are simple to make ahead of when you plan to eat them because they can easily be reheated or even frozen to save for a later date. They’re pretty quick to prepare in mass quantities and then bring out for family get-togethers or gatherings.
  • Food & Wine perfected chef Charlie Collins’ mini Panamanian beef empanadas recipe in its test kitchen. The recipe uses ground beef, tomato paste, red bell peppers, tomatoes, broth and seasonings to fill the empanadas. The recipe calls for frying them four at a time to brown them and then moving them to the oven to keep them warm until they have all been properly fried.
  • Many empanadas are made with tasty ham. For an off-the-beaten-path flavor, try this recipe from Community Table that features ham with honey mustard and onions.

Sweet recipes
After a fantastic meal, biting into flaky, warm dessert empanadas can be an amazing experience. Here are some great recipes that may help you do so:

  • Apple pie empanadas are an interesting blend of American tradition and Latin flavors. With this recipe from En Mi Cocina Hoy, you can make apple pies just like your mom used to make, but in a nearly bite-sized variety. This blogger uses greek yogurt as a part of the dough to make it light and sweet. Your house will smell amazing once you start baking these delicious desserts.
  • Modern Mami makes stawberry and cream cheese pastelitos, another take on empanadas that comes from Puerto Rico. Sometimes they are filled with guava, but this recipe uses only four ingredients to make both the dough and filling. You can substitute store-bought pastry sheets with ones you have made yourself to create entirely homemade desserts, depending on how much time you have.
  • Erika of Nibbles and Feasts created monkey kisses empanadas one Valentine’s Day after realizing she could throw together some leftovers to create an amazing dessert. Her recipe uses ready-made pie crust for the dough and bananas, coconut, and chocolate chips for the insides.

The dough for any empanada can be made from store-bought pre-made mixes, or at home. You can make your own to cater to different dietary needs such as gluten or vegan diners. Choose to fry or bake them based on your preference of crispiness and the amount of time you have to prepare. Make one (or several) of the recipes above and you’re starting off National Empanada Day on the right foot!