Chicken Empanadas with Ancho-Espresso Sauce

  • Yield: servings


For the empanada dough:
4 1/2cups all purpose flour
1tablespoon salt
1/2teaspoon cracked black pepper
1cup cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon portions
2large eggs
2/3cup ice water
2tablespoons cider vinegar
For the Ancho Espresso Sauce:
2 1/2cups beef broth
1cup finely chopped red onion
1/4cup pure maple syrup
1/4cup brown sugar, packed
1tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1tablespoon Ancho chile powder
1teaspoon espresso powder
1/4teaspoon ground cloves
1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2teaspoon salt
5tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoons
1teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
For the chicken filling:
2tablespoons olive oil
1cup finely chopped red onion
1-- red bell pepper, finely chopped
1pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and diced (1/4 or 1/3 inch pieces)
2cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 1/2teaspoons ground cumin
2 1/2teaspoons Ancho chile powder
1teaspoon dried oregano
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2cup green pimiento stuffed olives, chopped
1/3cup golden raisins
2tablespoons tomato paste
-- Salt and pepper to taste
-- Egg wash: 2 eggs whisked with 2 tablespoons cream
1cup sour cream


Prepare the dough: In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and pepper to blend. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and vinegar. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and pulse until just incorporated (mixture will still be in pieces). Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gather together. Knead the mixture a few times to bring the dough together. Divide the dough into 3 pieces and form each piece into a flat rectangle. Wrap the pieces in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Prepare the Ancho-Espresso Sauce: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the beef broth, onions, maple syrup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, Ancho chile powder, espresso powder, cloves, cayenne, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to 1 cup, 20-25 minutes. Whisk in the butter until incorporated, and then whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Simmer until the mixture has thickened, 2-3 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and set aside.

While the sauce simmers, prepare the filling: Place the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for 5 minutes, until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the peppers and saute for 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken, garlic, cumin, Ancho chile powder, oregano, and cinnamon, and saute, stirring often, until the chicken is no longer pink, 3-4 minutes. Add the olives and raisins, and stir to incorporate. Add the tomato paste, and stir until incorporated and the mixture is heated through, 2-3 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Assemble the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 425F degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of the pieces of dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Using an inverted bowl or round cutter, cut out as many 5-inch circles as you can and transfer them to the baking sheets. Reroll scraps as necessary. Continue the process with the other pieces of dough until you have 16 rounds. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling on the bottom halves of the rounds. Fold over the top halves of the rounds to form a half-moon shape and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. (Note: It is easiest to roll out and assemble 8 empanadas and bake the first batch while assembling the second batch.)

Strain the cooled Ancho-Espresso sauce through a mesh strainer and then transfer the sauce to a squeeze bottle. Place the sour cream in a second squeeze bottle. Decorate serving plates with the two sauces, alternating patterns as desired (criss-cross, circles, etc.) Place 2 empanadas on top of the sauces and serve warm.