Jane and I have been blessed with an urge to travel. One of our favorite locations is the unbelievably gorgeous country of Belize in Central America. Belizeans know how to make succulent and flavorful stewed chicken rice and beans, empanadas, johnny cakes tostadas, tacos, pupusas, ceviche, burritos, salbutes, fry jacks, garnaches, and so much more!
Each time we go, I swear we spend half our time poking around the markets, looking for local ingredients and products. We visit small restaurants for simple but tasty local food. Most often, there is not line cooks, but a hard working Belizean woman doing the cooking. I always say to Jane, “Let’s go to a little local place where someone’s Mama is in the kitchen”. I swear I can taste love in the food! ❤
After we return from Central America, the one food I miss most and cannot get in Suburban Pennsylvania is authentic zesty recado adobo chicken empanadas. What is better that yummy spicy chicken in homemade flaky pasty? They are the fast food of the gods, in my humble food opinion.
The recipe below is not an exact version of the Belizean empanada, but it is close, and very tasty. The flavor and aroma of these empanadas make me daydream about being in Belize, where I am drinking a cold cerveza in a beach bar overlooking the Caribbean, my feet in the warm sand, talking to my friends while the music drifts lazily away with the tradewinds. Ahhhhh.
Recado Chicken Empanadas
Makes 12 empanadas * Prep Time: 2 hours * Cooking Time: 20 minutes
* Pastry Dough Ingredients:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted chilled butter, slice into 1/4 inch pieces
3 egg yolks
1 cup cold beer
* Empanada Dough Method:
- Place the flour salt and butter in a 12 inch metal or glass mixing bowl
- Use your fingers or a pastry cutter to blend the butter into the flour.
- Mix the egg yolk together with the beer.
- Pour egg/beer into the flour. Work with your fingers to combine to make the dough.
- Sprinkle some flour on your work table. Knead the dough on your work table until it is no longer crumbly. Shape into a ball.
- Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let rest for at least thirty minutes.
* Empanada Filling Ingredients:
2 Tblsp Oil
6 deboned and skinless chicken thighs
2 Tblsp either wheat flour or rice flour
1 small onion and one large green pepper, both diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp Recado , mixed with 1 Tblsp hot water (dissolved the Recado in the water – or use canned chipotle chilis in Adobo, * see page bottom )
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp hot sauce (I prefer Marie Sharp’s either green or red)
1 tsp fresh lime juice
* Empanada Filling Method:
- Place a 14 inch sauté pan, or wok, on a medium flame
- Add the oil to the sauté pan. Dust the chicken in the 2 Tblsp flour. Place the chicken the sauté pan.
- When the chicken browns on one side, turn it over and do the same on the other side.
- Add the onions, peppers and Recado and turn flame to low. Stir all. When the chicken is cooked, remove all to a plate to cool.
- Into a clean mixing bowl, add the salt, chili powder, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, hot sauce and lime juice to the cooked chicken, onions and peppers. The filling is done.
* Making and Baking the Empanada
- Divide the dough in half (you cannot roll all the dough at one time) Place the dough in your hand and create a disc shape.
- Place about 2 Tblsp flour on your work table and place the dough on the flour. Be sure to dust both sides of the dough with flour before rolling the dough. Using your rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick.
- Using a round cutter that is about 6 inches wide, cut circles. If you do not have a metal cutter that large, use an inverted soup bowl. You should have cut at least 4 to 5 dough circles after rolling the dough
- Fill each dough circle with about 1/4 cup chicken filling
- Wet the edges of the dough using your finger or a small pastry brush. Fold the dough over the filling to make half moon shapes. Press the edges of the dough to seal. You may use a fork to crimp the edges, or you may crimp by creating folds.
- Place the empanadas on a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper, or silicone mat. Using a sharp knife, make a 1/2 inch cut at the top of each empanada to allow the steam to escape when baking.
- Brush each empanadas with egg wash
- Turn oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit to preheat your oven.
- Using the other half of your dough, make more empanadas.
- Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes
And there you have it! Zesty Recado Chicken Empanadas!
These are a great weekend treat any time of year. Our whole family loves them! Hope you decide to give it a try!
Cheers, and Happy Eating!
* Can substitute the Adobo Sauce in canned Chipotle Chilis OR…
Make your Own! Here’s a few to check out on the web…
* Edited for Additions 11/2/13