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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
Show Full Nutrition Label
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 38g||48%|
|Saturated Fat 12g||60%|
|Total Carbohydrate 60g||22%|
|Dietary Fiber 3g||11%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 2mg||9%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Most countries in Latin America have their own delicious version of an empanada, a handheld half-moon-shaped turnover, all wonderful and juicy. Some are baked, some are fried, most are filled with meat or chicken, some have meat and chicken (and eggs), some have dairy, some don’t. It’s hard to choose a favorite, and if you ask a person from each country, they will assure you their local empanadas are the best. With hundreds of empanadas to choose from, it’s impossible to crown a winner, but a fair bet in the rankings is the chicken empanada, or empanada de pollo.
All empanadas follow the same premise: tasty dough, hearty filling, crunchy outside, and spicy or other complementary dipping sauces. In the United States, most people have heard of Argentinian or Chilean empanadas, but the truth is all countries from Mexico to Chile have one or more versions. Our delicious take on an empanada uses juicy chicken, caramelized onions, olives, and pieces of hard-boiled egg. But in the empanada realm, all is fair, so use your imagination, as the standard is mainly the shape and not the size or filling—although smaller is always better to allow the crust to cook and the inside to warm up.
If you’re making lots of empanadas, consider cooking the filling and making the dough the day before. Some say that the overnight rest enhances the chicken flavor and that the additional rest time makes a more pliable dough—but making everything the day of still makes wonderfully flavorful empanadas. Serve the empanadas as a snack; light lunch or dinner, or as a casual appetizer—alongside spicy ají—to accompany your favorite beer.
Click Play to See This Chicken Empanadas Recipe Come Together
“The recipe for chicken empanadas had many steps but was not difficult. The dough came together nicely and was a snap to roll and shape, and the filling was easy and delicious. Before filling the empanadas, remember to taste the chicken mixture for seasoning and moisture. The chicken empanadas were excellent.” —Diana Rattray
For the Dough:
4 cups all-purpose flour, more for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons fine salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup chilled lard, or vegetable shortening
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks
1 cup water, divided
For the Filling:
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup vegetable oil, more for the pan
2 large onions, chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sliced green olives
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Make the Dough
Gather the ingredients.
Place the flour in a medium bowl and stir in the salt and sugar.
Add the chilled lard and butter, and with the help of 2 knives or a pastry cutter, cut the fats into the flour until you have a sandy mixture.
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 of the cup of water.
Stir 1/2 cup of the water-egg mixture into the flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together.
Knead the dough, adding more of the water-egg mixture as needed, until the dough is smooth. If the dough feels dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup of water 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough might feel shaggy but will be pliable yet firm once thoroughly chilled.
Add an additional pinch of salt if you’d like savory crusts.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
When ready to use, the dough should be soft and smooth, not elastic. If you poke a hole in the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.
Poach the Chicken
Gather the ingredients.
Place the chicken in a medium saucepan. Crumble the bouillon on top and add the bay leaf. Cover with water and bring it to a boil.
Once the liquid is boiling, lower to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes, Remove from heat and let the chicken breasts cool in the broth.
Shred chicken into small pieces.
Moisten the shredded chicken with 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Set aside.
Make the Filling
Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onions, paprika, cumin, chili powder, sugar, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Cook over low heat until the onions are soft and transparent, and the mixture has a lively orange color, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and add more chili powder if desired.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the chicken. Let the filling cool for at least 30 minutes. Some cooks choose to refrigerate overnight, but as long as the filling is not too hot, you can proceed to finish the filling and assemble the empanadas.
Add the hard-boiled eggs and olives to the filling.
Assemble the Empanadas
Mix the egg yolk with the water. Set aside.
Divide the empanada dough into 10 to 15 golf ball-sized pieces. Roll each one into a smooth ball.
Let the divided dough rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 425 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball of dough into a circular shape of about 6 inches in diameter.
Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling into the middle of the circle. You want a good amount of chicken but not enough to overfill the disc of dough.
Lightly brush the edges of the dough along the bottom half of the circle with water.
Fold the top half of the circle over the filling to form a semicircle. Firmly press the edges together to seal.
Brush the pressed edge with water and fold the edge over itself, pinching and crimping as you go to make a braid-like effect.
Place empanadas on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush each empanada with the egg yolk and water mixture.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- For a nice flavor contrast, add 1/2 cup of raisins to the chicken mixture when you add the green olives and hard-boiled eggs.
- Instead of poached chicken breasts, shred the meat from a plump rotisserie chicken—you’ll need approximately 4 cups of shredded chicken.
Use a Different Dough
For a different version of the empanada:
- Buy the empanada dough discs at a supermarket that sells Latin foods. The discs have the exact shape that you need and are a wonderful substitution for homemade dough.
- Alternatively, use puff pastry. Although it isn’t traditional unless you’re purposely making empanadas de hojaldre (puff pastry empanadas), puff pastry discs also yield a flaky version of the empanada that’s really tasty.
- Some markets carry corn-based dough, which in most cases is meant to be fried. Heat the oil to 350 F before adding the empanadas, cook until golden brown.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Empanadas
- Refrigerate leftover empanadas in an airtight container or food storage bag for up to 4 days.
- To reheat empanadas, wrap them in foil, place them on a baking sheet, and heat in a preheated 350 F oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, until hot. Reheated empanadas should reach an internal temperature of 165 F.
Can I Freeze the Empanadas?
Absolutely. Place the unbaked empanadas on a flat baking tray and freeze until solid. The empanadas shouldn’t be touching one another during this first stage. Once they are frozen and hard, transfer them to a ziptop bag, label, and freeze for up to three months.
When ready to bake, simply preheat your oven to 325 F and transfer the frozen empanadas to a lined baking tray, brush with egg yolk and water, and cook until golden brown. As the filling is frozen, it will take 25 to 35 minutes—look for an internal temperature of 165 F.
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