Empanadas are like Venezuelan hot pockets or calzones. We usually serve them as appetizers (small ones), or as a main dish with delicious fillings and dipping sauces. Empanada fillings are as varied as Arepa fillings, and we use some of the same fillings that we use in Arepas as well. The most common and easy to prepare are cheese empanadas, and they are the most popular amongst kids. We also have exquisite ones like lobster, or Cazón (small shark), and common ones like ground beef, shredded chicken, shredded meat. Then there are big ones like filled with Pabellón (Shredded beef, black beans and plantains), or combination ones like cheese and beef, or even ham and cheese. One thing is for sure; you will like them no matter what is in them. Another great thing about empanadas is that they are a great way to re-purpose your leftovers, and no one will complain about eating the same thing for lunch that they had the night before for dinner, because everyone loves empanadas. So keep that in mind when you have leftovers, and you don’t want them to go to waste.
What You’ll Need:
– 1 Cup Harina PAN
– 1 ¼ Cup Water
– ½ Teaspoon Salt
– 1/3 Teaspoon Sugar
– Vegetable Oil (enough to fry all the empanadas)
– Your Empanada Fillings (Cheese, beef, chicken, pork, etc.)
– Clear Plastic Wrap (Cling Wrap)
1. Just like the Arepas: Add the Harina PAN into a mixing bowl, then add the salt and the sugar to the water and stir it. Now little by little add the water and knead and mix the dough using your hands. You must knead the dough until the mix is soft, firm and has a uniform consistency without any grains.
2. Once the dough is ready, make a big ball out of it, and then split into 4 equal parts.
3. Set up your cooking space as shown in the picture below in order to have:
a) Your Dough
b) Your Fillings (I have beef and shredded Queso Blanco cheese here)
c) A bowl with warm water with a little bit of oil in it.
d) A bowl to shape your empanadas with
e) A large enough piece of Cling Wrap
4. Grab one of your four sections of dough and form a ball.
5. Begin to flatten the ball into a disk shape using the entire length of your hands, also use the water with oil to moisten your hands so that the dough doesn’t stick to them.
6. Flatten the ball until it is less than 0.25” thick.
7. Place about two to three tablespoons of your filling right below the center of the circle.
8. With both hands grab the top of the Cling Wrap and carefully fold the circle in two, so that you have a semicircle.
9. Press the Cling Wrap with your fingers over the top dough towards the bottom dough, in order to close the empanada.
10. Now use the extra empty bowl as shown to cut the excess dough and make the famous empanada moon-shape.
11. Open the Cling Wrap and remove the excess dough, which you can add to the remaining dough to make the rest of the empanadas.
12. Carefully remove the empanada from the Cling Wrap, so you can make the rest of them.
13. You can begin to fry them immediately if you have someone else to help keep an eye on the ones in the pan, so you can continue making the other ones and not burn them.
14. Also, it is a good idea to mark them so you know which ones have which filling. In case someone doesn’t want one of the fillings. I use one dot for cheese, two dots for beef, and three dots for beef and cheese. But you can use whatever you want.
15. Once you have all your empanadas ready, it’s time to fry them.
16. Once they are golden, take them out and lay them on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
17. Serve and enjoy. Be careful, they are hot!