Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas

So much for the unseasonably warm weather. It dropped like 20 degrees in two days, so it’s finally feeling like fall. And all this cool weather makes me want heartier food. This empanada definitely falls into that category. I found the recipe on one of the blogs that I frequent, Smitten Kitchen. It’s a great blog that’s been around for several years. The photos are beautiful and the recipes look delicious. Definitely check it out!

I have to admit that lately I’ve been a little obsessed with savory pies. Pasties, empanadas, pot pie. I can’t get enough! Maybe that’s a bit over the top, but it’s a complete meal in a little pastry-wrapped package. The filling of this empanada is delicious, and the recipe will yield some extra filling (I suggest serving the extra filling with some rice and call it a day). The chicken is fall-apart tender and the chorizo seasons the whole mixture.

Don’t be put off by making your own pastry, it’s really quite easy. Just make sure that the pastry dough stays cold while you are working with it, especially when you are rolling it out and filling the dough. If you find it gets too warm and it starts sticking, throw the dough into the freezer for 5-10 minutes.

So make these empanadas. It’s a little time intensive but this recipe makes a lot of empanadas and they freeze well for future cravings. So make these, make these now!

Chicken Empanada with Chorizo and Olives

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes about 24 appetizer-sized or 16 entree-sized empanadas

For the dough:

  • 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup ice water
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

For the filling:

  • 2 1/2 lbs whole chicken legs, including thighs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup finely diced Spanish chorizo (pull off the casings before you dice it)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (not hot)
  • 1/3 cup chopped pitted green olives
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water


Make the dough:

Whisk the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork, blend the butter into the flour until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-sized butter lumps. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water, and vinegar. Add the liquid to the flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. Knead the dough (either in the bowl or on a floured work surface) until the dough comes together. Form dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours.

Make the filling:

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken on each side, about 6 minutes total. Transfer browned chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaves in the skillet and saute until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook an additional minute. Add the paprika, olives, wine, and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir to scrape up and brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the skillet along with any juices from the plate. Reduce heat to medium low to simmer and cover with a lid. Continue to cook until chicken is tender, turning chicken once during cooking, about 25-30 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a clean plate.When chicken is cook enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding the skin and bones. Meanwhile, continue to simmer the sauce mixture until it is the consistency of heavy cream. Mix the chicken in with the sauce and discard the bay leaves. Taste the mixture and season with salt and pepper, as needed. Cool the filling for 30 minutes.

Form the Empanadas:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into 24 (for appetizers) or 16 (for entree) equal pieces and form each into a disk. Work with one disk at a time while keeping the remaining dough covered with a tea towel. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a disk until it is 1/8 inch thick.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of the dough, do not overfill. Fold dough in half, enclosing the filling, and crimp the edges together with the tines of a fork. Transfer the empanada to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue this process with the remaining dough and filling.

Lightly brush the empanadas with egg wash and bake until golder, about 25 minutes. Allow empanadas to cool about 5 minutes before serving.


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