Empanadas de Viento (Empanadas with Queso Fresco)
Makes 12 empanadas
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 large egg yolk
½ cup cold water
The dough must rest properly and has to be rolled out thinly to be workable, but once you get it down, this is an easy dough to handle. When forming the empanadas, make sure the edges are well sealed so they don’t leak while frying.
You can roll and crimp the edges a few times to help ensure that they’re closed up tightly. Fully formed empanadas de viento can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and foil, for up to 2 months; thaw in the refrigerator before frying. The dough can be refrigerated for up to one day.
¼ lb queso fresco, grated (2 cups)
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
¼ cup granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Pickled Onions (recipe follows), for serving
Hot sauce, for serving
1. To make the dough, sift the flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the vegetable shortening into the dry ingredients until it is fully incorporated. Add the egg yolk and mix well. Adding 2 or 3 tablespoons at a time, knead in the water with your hands until a smooth dough forms. Pat the dough into a round, flat disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before making the empanadas.
2. To assemble the empanadas, divide the chilled dough into a dozen 1-inch balls. Using a manual tortilla press, a rolling pin, or the heel of your hand, press each dough ball into a circle about 1/8-inch thick and about 6 inches in diameter. Mound about 2 tablespoons of cheese in the center of each round and fold the dough over to form a half-moon. Use a dinner fork to crimp the outer edge. Alternatively, use a plastic empanada press from a Latin market.
3. To cook the empanadas, heat the oil to 350°F in a stockpot, using a candy or deep-fry thermometer to monitor the temperature. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fry the empanadas in batches until they are golden brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes each, turning once in the oil. Drain them on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar before serving with pickled onions and hot sauce on the side.
Cebollas Encurtidas (Pickled Onions)
Makes about 2 cups
Mamita Amada’s pickled onions are a wonderful condiment to serve with empanadas. They also make a nice addition to sandwiches and a tasty garnish for grilled meats and vegetables. The onions should have a nice al dente texture—it is essential to cool the pickling liquid before adding the onions, and to marinate them in the refrigerator.
2 cups cold water
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sprigs thyme
6 coriander seeds
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
2 large Spanish onions, very thinly sliced
1. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, salt, thyme, coriander seeds, and red pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a nonreactive container. Allow the pickling liquid to cool completely.
3. Add the sliced onions, cover the container, and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator. Serve chilled.
(Recipe reprinted from The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces, 2012 Lake Isle Press.)