Venezuelan chicken empanadas

Empanadas are a staple in Venezuelan cuisine and a very popular dish in my family’s kitchen! We use various fillings–from cheese to fish, from beans and vegetables to beef. These empanadas are made with delicious shredded chicken and served with a new take on “guasacaca”, Venezuela’s version of salsa. They are gluten free!Chef Alejandra Schrader

Venezuelan Chicken Empanadas

As seen on the Home & Family Show – Click on the link to watch segment!

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 ½ lb boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Coarse sea salt
  • ¼ cup grape seed oil
  • 1 cup brown onions, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tbsp Alejandra’s Signature Sazón
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • ½ cup scallion greens, finely chopped
  • 1 red jalapeno, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced

Masa

  • 2 cups warm water (plus more, as needed)
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 2 cups Harina P.A.N. (Arepa flour)
  • 2 liters grape seed oil

Sauce

  • 2 large avocados, seeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, roughly chopped (seed to make less spicy)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup green bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper

Empanadas by Alejandra Schrader

Preparation

Filling

Add water to a large pot and add cilantro, garlic, and coarse sea salt. Bring to boil over medium high heat. Slowly add chicken to water and cook for 20 minutes. Discard skin. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a platter and allow cooling down. Using a couple of forks, break chicken apart until finely shredded.
Heat ¼ cup grape seed oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the Signature Sazón; add garlic, red peppers, scallions, and jalapeños and cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low, then add shredded chicken and tomatoes. Mix until everything is fully incorporated. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes. Transfer to platter.
*Mixture needs to cool down in order to make empanadas. (You may make ahead and refrigerate overnight)

Masa

In a bowl, mix water, sugar, and salt. Pour in flour slowly and mix until ingredients have incorporated (although masa may feel a bit runny). Let it stand for 5 minutes (this is to allow it to hydrate). Gather dough forming a ball with your hand, place it on a board or clean surface, and knead with hands for a couple minutes. Make sure to moisten your hands as you work with the dough. Break into equal-sized portions and form balls (about 12-15, depending on size) with your hands.
Working one dough ball at a time, sprinkle with a bit of water, then place on a lightly oiled heavy- duty plastic wrap (I use a resealable bag, cut the seal out, split open) and flatten down with your fingers to approximately a 4″ circle (make sure your hands stay moist during this process). Place 2 tbsp of filling in the center of the dough. U
se plastic to fold the dough over the filling and lightly press to seal all o ver. Trim into a clean half-circle shape using the edge of a small bowl. Remove the plan tic and save any leftover masa (you may make more balls with leftovers). Place each empanada on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Heat grape seed oil in a very large Dutch oven until a deep-fry thermometer registers 370-375 degrees F. Deep fry the empanadas in batches until golden, about 4 min each batch. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined platter; then transfer to baking sheet to keep warm in the oven, if desired.

Sauce

Combine the avocado, jalapeno, cilantro, bell pepper, garlic, and lemon juice in a blender. Add salt and pepper and puree until smooth. Thin out the sauce with up to a little extra lemon juice, if necessary. Serve with empanadas.

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