Empanadas (Brazilian Meat Pies) Recipe

Servings: Makes 50 1/2-inch empanadas

Notes: Empanadas are Brazil''s national appetizer, tiny pies filled with chicken olives, and peas. Belita''s are famous all over Brazil. Empanadas are traditionally made in special molds that are almost as deep as they are wide. If they are unavailable, any small tartlet molds will do. "The secret to making good dough," says Belita, "is to massage it, not knead it." It may look as if she''s making mud pies, but the results are truly superb.

For the dough:

Step 1

To prepare the dough: Place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Place the butter, shortening, eggs, salt, and 1 cup water in the well. Using one hand to mix, squeeze these ingredients through your fingers to make a paste. Gradually work in the flour, squeezing the dough between your fingers to mix it. Add water as necessary; the dough should be quite soft. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.

Step 2

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Saute the onion and garlic over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft but not brown. Add the chicken, bay leaf, tomato paste, salt, and pepper, plus water just to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Skim off the fat that rises to the surface. Remove the chicken, then strain and reserve the broth.

Step 3

When the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and remove the meat from the bone. Finely shred the meat with your fingers or in a food processor. Stir in the flour, peas, and olives. Stir in 3 to 4 Tbsp broth; the filling should be moist but not runny. Add enough cayenne to give the chicken a little bite.

Step 4

Pinch off cherry-sized pieces of dough and use them to line the tartlet molds. Belita pushes the dough in with her thumb. The dough should just reach over the top of the mold. Place a spoonful of filling in each crust.

Step 5

Roll out the remaining dough and cut out tops for the empanadas. Try to capture an air bubble when you place the top over the filling; according to Belita, this is what makes the pies light. Seal the tartlets by pinching together the top and bottom crust. Note: The empanadas can be prepared ahead to this stage and frozen.

Step 6

Preheat the oven to 350-F. Brush the tops with egg glaze. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Unmold and serve.

Things You'll Need

  • 4c Flour
  • 1tb Butter
  • 1c Shortening
  • 2 Whole eggs
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 2ts Salt
  • 1 1/2c Cold water
  • For the filling:
  • 1tb Oil
  • 1sm Onion, finely chopped (about
  • -1/4 cup)
  • 1 Clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Chicken legs
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 2tb Tomato paste
  • Salt & pepper
  • Water, as needed
  • 3tb Flour
  • 1/4c Cooked peas
  • 8 Pitted green olives, chopped
  • Cayenne pepper
  • 1 Egg beaten with a pinch of
  • -salt for glaze

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