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Venezuelan Chicken Empanadas

Venezuelan Chicken Empanadas

Chef Alejandra Schrader is cooking up traditional chicken empanadas.
Ingredients for Filling
  • 1 1⁄2 lb boneless chicken breasts
  • 6 sprigs of cilantro
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 1 cup brown onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1⁄2 tsp annatto powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 cup red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup scallion greens, finely chopped
  • 1 red jalapeno, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
Ingredients for Masa
  • 2 cups warm water (plus more, as needed)
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 2 cups Arepa flour—Harina Pan, Masarepa (do not use Masa Harina)
  • 2 liters grape seed oil
Ingredients for Sauce
  • 2 large avocados, seeded, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, roughly chopped (seed to make less spicy)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup green bell pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Preparation for Filling

1) 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.

2) Heat 1⁄4 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 cumin, curry powder, smoked paprika, achiote, and black pepper. Add garlic, red peppers, scallions, and jalapenos and cook for another 2 minutes.

3) 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.)

Preparation for Masa

1) 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.

2) 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. Use plastic to fold the dough over the filling and lightly press to seal all over. Trim into a clean half-circle shape using the edge of a small bowl. Remove the plastic and save any leftover masa (you may make more balls with leftovers). Place each empanada on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

3) 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.

Preparation for Sauce

1) 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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