March 1, 2011

Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Empanadas

I love empanadas. In addition to being one of my favorite things to eat, they are also one of my favorite things to cook. I love foods that you can really get creative with, and when it comes to empanada filling, the sky is the limit! They can be sweet or savory, vegetarian or carnivore friendly, you can just look in your cupboard and fridge and use whatever you have on hand. Which is exactly what I did for these.

I also pride myself in my ability to make a pretty delicious pastry crust. Empanada dough is very similar to making a pie crust. I just use an egg instead of water, and cut in the butter a little more thoroughly, to help keep the pastry from crumbling so much when you eat it. One thing that has completely revolutionized my pastry crust making has been to use a food processor to cut in the fat, rather than doing it by hand. You can do it in half the time, therefore keeping the butter colder, and this results in a flakier crust. I highly recommend trying this next time you make any kind of pastry crust. I might actually write an entire other post just on pastry crust alone.

Without further ado:

Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Empanadas
(makes 6)

1-2 Sweet potatoes
2 cloves garlic sauteed in olive oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Crushed hot chili pepper
1/4 soft goat cheese
Salt to taste

Cook the sweet potatoes thoroughly (either by baking or microwaving them). Scoop the cooked potato into a medium bowl and mash to your preferred consistency. Heat up some olive oil in a skillet, then add about 2 cloves worth of minced garlic and saute until the garlic is just starting to brown. Pour the garlic and oil into the mashed sweet potatoes, then mix in the apple cider vinegar, crushed red pepper, salt and soft goat cheese (or feta). Once this is all mixed together, cover and set aside.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1 egg

In the bowl of a food processor mix the flour and salt. Take the butter out of the fridge and cut it into several pieces, then add them to the flour mixture. Pulse the mixture several times until it looks crumbly with BB sized pieces of butter. Now add the egg and pulse again, just until the dough starts to come together into one piece. Put the bowl of the processor in the fridge to keep the butter from melting. Make a space to roll out the dough, either on your cutting board or counter and lightly flour the surface. Dump out the dough onto the surface and get a little flour on your hands. Form the dough into one cylinder and cut into 6 different pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece to approximately a 3.5in circle.  As you are working with the dough, try to handle it as little as possible. The ultimate goal here is to keep the butter from melting and mixing into the dough completely. This is what gives pastry the light flakiness.

Once you have your 6 circles of dough, spoon some of the filling into them and fold the dough in half. press the edges together, then press a fork around them to create the cute little lines. Place them on a lined baking sheet and bake at 350 F, for 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

One last note, BE CAREFUL taking your first bite, the filling basically becomes molten lava. I break them in half to let out some of the steam before I take my first bite.


Ali said...

Okay that is EXACTLY why I always find myself avoiding pastry dough - the "cutting in" part! I don't have a pastry cutter so I use 2 butter knives. It drives me bonkers. I'm going to try using my food processor for this step. Genius!

These look soooo good, btw.

Jessi B. said...

Ali, you are so in for a treat! Using the food processor makes it so easy! I grew up using the 2 knife method so i definitely feel your pain! I make so much more pie than I used to now, lol.

Storie said...

oh my goodness jessi this sounds absolutely delicious. I will be attempting. PS I have started to make your famous breakfast burritos, and they never cease to delight.