Baked Empanadas (Cheats’)

These Baked empanadas are EVERYTHING. Minimum effort and maximum reward. If you’ve been following the recipes here, you know that this could very well be my mantra. Empanadas are turnovers, made with a buttery pastry and a filling, mostly meat. These, however, are made with Paneer/Cottage cheese and a pastry that comes together in 5 minutes, read as BEST EMPANADAS EVER!!!!

Also, Cinco de Mayo coming up so cheers to everyone celebrating this day!!! If you’d like to bake some dessert to celebrate, try the Baked Cheesecake. It’s one of the most popular recipes here. Sidenote: Follow me on Instagram, where I have been posting a lot of lockdown friendly recipes.

Why are these Cheats’ Empanadas.

First the pastry for the Empanadas: I’ve simplified the recipe. This one needs no kneading and comes together rather quickly in a mixer/blender. Yes, you heard that right. NO rubbing butter between fingers, no getting your hands messy, just 2 ingredients (because who counts salt and water as ingredients) and a mixer/blender and 5 minutes makes a dough.

Next the Empanada filling :

While generally, the filling is made with beef or chicken, I decided to use Paneer in its place. Considering my two little boys wanted only “one more puff” 3 times, sounds like this was a good decision.

Substitutions in the Empanadas recipe:

Let’s start with the most obvious substitution; the filling. You can definitely replace the paneer with chicken or any other meat. Minced sausages or beef are also a great choice. If you want to try other vegetarian options, try using sweet corn or potato or cauliflower.

I’ve used basic seasonings, but feel free to add what you prefer. A barbecue seasoning, chilli flakes, taco seasoning, use anything you like or have at hand.

If you want to keep this eggless, use milk to brush over the pastry before baking.

Making the Empanadas in advance :

These Empanadas can surely be made in advance and stored at different stages. You can make the pastry dough and filling in advance and store it in the fridge for up to a day or two. Take it out of the fridge 10 minutes before you want to use it or defrost for 10 seconds in the microwave to make the dough more pliable for rolling out.

You can also roll out the dough, fill the empanadas, make the turnovers and freeze them for longer if you need. When you need to use them, defrost, egg wash and bake in a preheated oven.

A Picture guide to making Empanadas :

  1. First the pastry : Pulse the butter, salt and flour to resemble crumbs.

2. Add chilled water to bring the dough together.

3. Wrap in cling film and let the dough rest in the refrigerator.

4. Roll out the dough, cut out circles, place the filling .

5. Fold into half and crimp the edges.

6. Egg wash and bake.

Let’s get to making them :

Empanadas with Paneer

For the dough :

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

125 gms butter, cold, cut into cubes

1/4 cup chilled water

For the filling :

200 gms paneer

2 tbsp oil

2 onions

Salt & pepper

Dried herbs

1 tbsp finelychopped coriander leaves

1/4 cup grated cheese

1 egg for the egg wash

Method:

  • Start with making the dough. Add the flour and salt to a mixer/blender. Pulse for a 2-3 spurt to mix the two.
  • Add the chilled and roughly cubed butter to this. Pulse again, in 3-5 seconds spurts, till you have a bread crumb like mixture.
  • Add half the cold water and pulse or turn on the mixer. Then add the rest of the water and pulse again.
  • Mix till the dough almost comes together, although you will still have a few crumbs.
  • Tip the mixture on to a sheet of cling film. Bring the dough together by just squidging the mixture with your hands. Shape into a ball, cover with cling film refrigerate the dough for 20 mins.

For the filling :

  • While the dough rests in the fridge, you can make the filling.
  • Roughly grate the paneer or pulse it into crumbs in the mixer.
  • In a pan, heat up the oil, fry the onions till they turn soft.
  • Add the salt, pepper, dried herbs/seasoning and the grated paneer.
  • Stir fry for a couple of minutes, the paneer will begin to melt.
  • Finish off with a sprinkling of chopped coriander leaves and turn off the heat. Let the filling cool completely.

Assembling the empanadas

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  • Take the chilled dough out of the fridge and place it over a baking sheet. Place a sheet of cling film over the dough. I have found this to be the easiest way to roll out the dough.
  • Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a medium thickness. Using a round cookie cutter or a wide-rimmed glass, cut out circles on the dough.
  • Place a tbsp of the filling on one side of the circle, sprinkle some cheese on the top and fold the circle to make a half-moon shape. Press the edges with a fork.
  • Repeat till all the dough and filling has been used up.
  • Place the filled out empanadas on a baking sheet.
  • Beat the egg, and using a pastry brush, brush the egg on the empanadas.
  • Put to bake in the oven for 20 minutes till the empanadas turn golden brown.
  • Serve with mayonnaise or ketchup or sour cream.

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