Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Empanadas

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – December 15, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Kraft Food and Family – Holiday 2010.

I subscribe to a lot of food magazines.  One of the biggest issues I have is that I’ll make lists of everything I want to try, and then when I revisit the recipe to make it, I’m not so sure it is all that appealing anymore.  This was one of those dishes.  Originally published as an appetizer, I didn’t feel like going through all of the work for finger food.  So I made the decision to make them larger so they could be a meal and move ahead with cooking.

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

© Kraft Foods

Part of the problem was the amount of chili powder I used on top of the empanadas.  One teaspoon would have been appropriate to sprinkle over 16 of them, but way too much for 8.  You probably also noticed that mine are more triangular.  That’s because I quartered the pie crusts instead of using a biscuit cutter.  Didn’t affect the taste and really doesn’t look “ugly” in terms of food standards.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessSIGH – There were several messy components to this dish: (a) shredding the chicken, (b) rolling out the pie crust and (c) giving the empanadas an egg wash.  I hate having to scrape up the flour that always ends up being cemented to my counter top and there is absolutely no way to do an egg wash without getting egg all over the place.  Okay, maybe there is, but I haven't mastered that technique yet.

Start-to-Finish Time: UNDER AN HOUR – if you follow the recipe exactly and make it as appetizers, you may be pushing the hour.  The filling is the easy part, after you’ve shredded the chicken, it is mixing, but you have to roll out the pie crust and cut out the pieces.  If you leave them larger, like I did, an hour should be plenty of time for you.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – There isn’t much to do but shred the chicken.  That’s a big “to do” though.  Personally, I hate shredding chicken, but it saves so much time to buy a rotisserie chicken and pull off the meat.

Ease of Recipe: MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR – Honestly, it isn’t hard, but there is a true knack to rolling out dough and cutting it.  Even worse is filling and sealing the empanadas.  This is the first time that I didn’t have any of them burst or tear, so if this is your first time trying it, be patient.

OverallNOT BAD – I thought they were tasty, but I’ve had better calzones/turnovers/empanadas.  However, the filling was delicious, so if there was a request, I’d absolutely make them.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 16 (as appetizer) / 8 (as entrée)

Nutritional Information (1 appetizer portion)
  • Calories 170
  • Total Fat 11g (Saturated Fat 3.5g)
  • Cholesterol 35mg
  • Sodium 230mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 10g
  • Protein 9g
  • Vitamin A 4%DV
  • Calcium 6%DV
  • Iron 4%DV

I’m not sure that you can get 16 (4”) circles out of the pie crust.  I did not use any biscuit/cookie cutters since I cut mine into quarters.  Honestly, I probably would only do 4 the next time, since the 8 were still slightly small for a meal. 

Depending how many you make out of the pie crust, you probably will be able to get it done in under an hour, but I doubt 40 minutes.  I shortened my time by buying a rotisserie chicken, but if you opt to cook your own chicken breasts to shred, you’ll have to add that time in (about 30 minutes).

I lighted up the calorie and fat count by using reduced-fat Mexican Cheese blend.  You’ll have to look for it because not everyone has it.  They already use reduced-fat mayonnaise in the recipe.

Changes denoted by red text

2 cups shredded cooked rotisserie chicken
1 cup reduced-fat Mexican shredded cheese
1/3 cup KRAFT Sandwich Shop Chipotle Flavored Reduced Fat Mayonnaise
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 package (14.1 ounces) ready-to-use refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts)
1 teaspoon chili powder

Ingredient Notes:
Rotisserie Chicken
  • I saved myself some time by buying a rotisserie chicken and shredded the breast meat.  You can cook 2 chicken breasts and then shred them, but you will have to add that process into your cooking time. 
  • Try to get a non-seasoned chicken if possible.  If you can’t find one, stay away from barbecue or teriyaki seasoned ones.  It will compete too much with the chipotle flavors.

Reduced Fat Mexican Shredded Cheese – You save about a third of the calories, fat and cholesterol by using a reduced fat version of the Mexican Shredded Cheese.  I was actually surprised that Kraft didn’t use this in their recipe since they used the reduced-fat mayonnaise.  Then I checked Kraft’s product listing and they don’t have a reduced-fat blend.  If you are looking, Sargento has one.

Chipotle Flavored Reduced Fat Mayonnaise
  • Don’t look too hard for a reduced fat version of this mayonnaise.  There is only one, and if you look carefully at the label, it is reduced fat. 
  • If you can’t find this mayonnaise, you can always blend a little chili powder in regular/reduced-fat mayonnaise until it has a little kick to it.

Cilantro – the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro.  You’ll have to buy a large bunch and if you don’t use the rest right away, it will go bad within the week.  I opted for 2 teaspoons of dried cilantro instead.

Flour – You have to lightly dust your counter with flour to keep the pie crust from sticking to it when rolling it out.  They didn’t include this in their recipe and although it isn’t a significant amount, if you don’t have any on hand, you’ll be outta luck.

Equipment Needed:
(2) Forks
(2) Mixing bowls – large and small
Spoon - mixing
Rolling pin
Pizza cutter - to cut pie crusts
Parchment paper
(2) Baking sheets
Pastry brush

Equipment Notes:
Fork – you can use whatever method you want when beating eggs, but I prefer using a fork in a small bowl.  The other one is used to make the border and seal the empanada.

Pizza Cutter – I hate cutting dough.  There is always a drag and it tears.  So one day, I decided to use a pizza cutter to draw straight lines.  I haven’t had torn dough since!  Now, if you are going with the appetizer option, use a 4” biscuit cutter to cut out circles.  I can guarantee that you’ll have to re-roll the dough though because there is no way you’ll get 16 circles 4” in diameter out of the pie crusts.

(1)  Heat oven to 375°F.

Depending on how long it takes your oven to heat to the correct temperature, you may want to hold off on this until after you have cut out the crusts.  My oven has a timer and it only takes 10 minutes to reach 350.  I usually wait until I’m almost done to turn on the oven.

(2)  Combine chicken, cheese, mayonnaise and cilantro in a large bowl.

I really didn’t “change” anything here, but the language of the recipe.  I get highly annoyed when they say things like “the first 4 ingredients.”  Just tell me which ones so I don’t have to count and get messed up.

(3)  In a small bowl, whisk egg and water until well blended.

(4)  Unroll pie crusts on lightly floured surface. Use rolling pin to roll each to 12-inch circle.

(5)  Cut each crust into quarters.

I used the pizza cutter to cut the circle into four equal sections.  It will not give you the perfect oval of the empanadas shown in Kraft’s picture, but it will be close enough (and not affect the taste either).

If you are selecting to make the appetizer version of this recipe, use a 4" biscuit cutter to cut out the circles.  You will probably have to lightly knead and re-roll the dough to make all 16.

(6)  Place on parchment-covered baking sheets. Spoon ¼ cup chicken mixture onto center of each circle; brush edge with egg.

Since I was using bigger portions of crust, I had to increase the amount spooned into the center.  If you are doing the appetizer version, spoon 2 tablespoons into the center.

(7)  Fold dough circles in half. Press tops lightly to remove excess air; seal edges with fork.

When you fold it over, try to give yourself enough room to fold up one side of the crust over the other.  It makes it easier to seal.  Don’t seal right away though, first remove excess air…

Use your fingertips to gently push down on them.  Don’t worry about squeezing all the air out.  You’ll just end up tearing the dough.  Simply push down, lightly, until you can feel the filling underneath.  Then stop!

Push down on the edges lightly and then fold it over towards the filling.  Use the fork to press down, but not mash, the edges.  It should make a pretty little border.

(8)  Brush tops with remaining egg. Sprinkle with chili powder.

(9)  Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.

These were tasty, but I would change a couple things if I make them again:
  • Since it is only my husband and I, I probably would make 2 (1 pie crust for each) or 4 big ones (cut each pie crust in half).  It would take a little longer to cook, but just to get it golden brown – the inside is already cooked.
  • I think the paprika is a guideline as to how much you might use.  I used the entire teaspoon of chili powder and they were covered in it, instead of sprinkled.

No comments:

Post a Comment