Tuesday, October 9, 2012

chicken empanadas with sausage and olives.

I kind of have an obsession with compartmentalizing things and placing things in boxes and bags.  When I was little my mom would always find me storing things in assorted packages and leaving them around the house.  Why I felt the need to do this I don’t know (I am sure some psychologist would have a field day analyzing this) but, what I do know is that I still love the idea of packaging things up in little containers which is probably why I LOVE empanadas.  Empanadas if you are unfamiliar with them are little dough “purses” that encase a savory (and sometimes sweet) filling.  Traditionally they have a ground beef filling, which is the one my mom usually makes, but for a riff on the classic I made a chicken version this past weekend.  The combination of chicken and sausage is irresistible and the addition of briny olives and sweet raisins ensure that each bite is loaded with flavor.  Despite the small amount of smoked paprika in the dish, I urge you to seek it out since it in parts a great deal of flavor.  This is the kind of thing to make on a rainy weekend afternoon when you have nothing better to do then spend time some quality time in the kitchen. 

Chicken Empanadas with Sausage and Olives
Recipe adapted from SmittenKitchen

I halved the original recipe from Smitten Kitchen since we currently have a minimal amount of freezer space.  Still, I was able to make 14 empanadas from the dough using a 4 ½ inch circular cookie cutter. 

For the Dough

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the Filling

A little over 1 pound of chicken thighs (or legs and thighs)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved lengthwise, and the cut into ¼ inch wide strips
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 link pork sausage or chorizo (I used pork and poblano), removed from casing
Generous ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (I used hot)
3 tablespoons chopped pitted green olives
2 tablespoons raisins
¼ cup dry white wine
¼ cup water or chicken stock

Make dough: Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small butter lumps.  Beat together the egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to the flour mixture, stirring with fork, until just incorporated.  (Mixture will look shaggy.)  Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with the heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together.  Form the dough into a rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic for at least an hour (can be chilled up to 6 hours). 

Make filling:  Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12 inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chicken, turning over once, about 6 minutes total, and transfer to a plate.  Sautee onions, garlic, and bay leaf in fat remaining in skillet, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. 

Add sausage and paprika and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add olives, wine, raisins, and broth/water and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits.  Return chicken to skillet along with any juices accumulated on plate, then reduce heat to moderately low and simmer chicken, covered, turning over once, until tender, 25 - 30 minutes total. 

Transfer chicken to a clean plate.  (Sauce in the skillet should be the consistency of heavy cream; if not, briskly simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.)  When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and coarsely chop meat.  Stir chicken into sauce and discard bay leaf.   Season with salt and pepper, then cool filling, uncovered, about 30 minutes. 

Form empanadas: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out dough about 1/8th inch thick, and using a 4 ½ inch circular cookie cutter, cut out the rounds of dough.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of the dough and fold in half.  Press the edges to seal, and then crimp with the tines of a fork to make a decorative edge.  (I usually cut out several rounds and then stuff.)  Continue until you run out of filling or run out of dough.  Arrange the empanadas on a parchment lined baking sheet.  (At this point you can freeze some of the empanadas if you don't want to use them all up - make sure you freeze on a baking sheet and then can transfer to a zip lock bag.)

Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature with hot sauce. 

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