Recipe: Corn, Cheese and Chilli Empanadas

It’s been a little while since I made empanadas, and I’ve been craving them a lot recently. The perfect little snack to take into work for lunch, for you or your colleagues, empanadas are tiny little pastries that go a long way.

I had made meat empanadas before as well as ricotta and spinach, but I wanted to make a traditional filling that I’d tried whilst in Argentina.

Empanadas de Choclo (corn empanadas) are very popular in South America, probably due to the vast amounts of maize that are grown in those countries. This was a great vegetarian option whilst in Argentina, where meat seemed to be the basis of every meal. The corn empanadas were usually filled with a creamy, cheese and sweetcorn sauce. To add another dimension to the filling, I added a little touch of chilli…

Empanadas de Choclo

For the dough (makes 10-15 medium sized empanadas):

  • 16 oz plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz unsalted butter
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 2 eggs (one with the white and yolk separated)

Start by mixing the flour and the salt together in a bowl. I recommend using a food processor if you have one, but I made do without. Mix the flour in with the rest of the ingredients (but only one of the eggs), adding them gradually to make sure they are all combined. The mixture should end up being firm, fluffy and textured so mix thoroughly, kneading the dough with your hands if necessary. Once ready, group the dough together in a ball, and leave in the fridge for half an hour. In the meantime, start making the filling.

For the corn, cheese and chilli filling:

  • 30-50g of mature cheddar (or grated mozzarella)
  • 200g of cooked sweetcorn, well drained
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • ½ red chilli (Very Lazy Chillies )
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grate the cheese and mix together with sweetcorn, chilli and spring onion. Season it lightly. Set the oven to 180°C.

Once the dough has cooled, roll it out evenly with a rolling pin. Be careful not to make the pastry too thing, otherwise it will tear and the filling will leak out when baking. Using a pastry cutter, roughly 4 inches wide in diameter, cut the circles out of the pastry.

Put a small spoonful of the filling just to the side of the middle of the circles, being careful not to overfill. Gently fold the pastry over the filling to make a semi-circle, pressing the edges down and sealing it using the whisked egg white (this is used to bind it). Continue with the rest of the empanadas. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the pasty for a neat finish, and brush over the whisked egg yolk. This will give the empanadas a glossy golden-brown finish.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and put the empanadas in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Once done, leave to cool for ten minutes, then serve.

 

Special thanks to David Heath for the photography (and taste-testing!).

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