Friday, January 20, 2012

Me Encanta Empanadas! Cheesy Chorizo Empanadas

I do, oh boy, I really do. Last year at my Dad's I was on an empanada craze, making every kind  I could think of after dabbling in Daisy Martinez's Morning, Noon and Night Latin cookbook. Basically you can make an empanada with any filling so long as it isn't too wet. What I love about these filled pastries is that they are so versatile. The dough itself varies from culture to culture. There is the flour-based pastellilo, from Puerto Rico, there is the masa-harina based empanada from Colombia, and there are the yeasty Salteñas from Bolivia. And as far as those fillings....they run the gamut! Guava and cheese, chicken, pork, corn, bacon and shrimp, and the list goes on...

Recently I have been doin' a fridge cleanup, so basically, I am trying to create meals with what's leftover in the fridge...and cabinets. I had a frozen link of chorizo mexicano, a half chunk of mozzarella, and wonton wrappers. I felt itty bitty empanadas were in line. According to Mr. Raichlen, one of the easiest ways to cut the fat from an empanada is to change the dough. Using wonton wrappers, you can cut back on the fat (regular dough often has lard or butter in it and ends up being deep fried)--these little babies can be baked instead of fried!

About my inspiration for these empanadas...when I was little, my cousin Nena and her boyfriend worked at a Mexican restaurant that served this amazing appetizer of chorizo topped with rich, melted cheese. You dipped tortilla chips into it--it was wondrous. In honor of this memory I decided to make these Cheesy Chorizo Empanadas. :-)

Cheesy Chorizo Empanadas
Makes ~27 little empanadas
 1 12 oz link of ground chorizo (see pic below)
1/2 cup (or more, if you like), of freshly shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you prefer! Chihuahua would be heavenly with chorizo)
Package of wonton wrappers (the small ones, about 3 inches across)
1 egg, beaten, or a small bowl of water

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Snip open the plastic and squeeze the chorizo into the skillet. Cook the chorizo similar to ground beef, stirring often and breaking up any clumps, for about 6-8 minutes. The meat will be a rich red, and will lose its slightly raw look. 

The chorizo is quite greasy, so if you want to drain it that is fine, just do it very carefully, because the texture of the meat is much looser and thinner than other ground meat. Let the meat cool.

When meat is cool, transfer to a medium sized mixing bowl and stir in the cheese. 

Arrange several wonton wrappers on a work surface (mine was a long baking sheet). Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wonton wrappers. Lightly brush the edges of the wrappers with egg or water. This will help seal the wrapper. If  you don't have a pastry brush, you can just use your finger. 

Pull the opposite ends of the wrappers up to meet, then press the edges closed with your fingers. It's great these little guys are so small! You will be able to have more control over them while you seal the edges. 

Lay the empanada flat, and crimp the edges with a fork by pressing the tines of the fork around the outer edges of the empanada. 

Arrange the empanadas on a baking sheet (or if your baking sheet was your surface you're ready to go), spaced about an inch or two apart. Spray tops with cooking spray. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 6-8 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. 

If you want to freeze these empanaditas, leave them spaced apart on the baking sheet. Flash freeze in the freezer for about 10 minutes or till frozen. Place in a freezer bag, gently squeeze out the air, then place in freezer. When ready to use, follow the baking instructions above, but double the baking time. And voila! Instant appetizer, game day food, or tapas! :-)

These haven't been cooked. I froze mine. :-)

Isn't this cute? You can make wonders with food!

Wonton Wrapper Flower! Made by my bestie! 

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