Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's an Easter Fiesta!

Cause, you know, what says Easter Sunday dinner like Chicken Empanada? Am I right? (What's that? I'm not?).  Okay, okay, I'm joking. This is actually a great recipe for the day or two after you've prepared a big feast, when what you really need is a break from the kitchen (Easter, Passover, Spring Equinox, whatevs).  This particular Chicken Empanada recipe is super easy and quick. Oh, and it's delicious, just saying.

What You'll Need
Cast iron skillet                                                              Pan for sauteing
2 Forks                                                                           Large mixing bowl
Cutting board                                                                 Mixing spoon
Knife for chopping                                                          2 cookie sheets
3 chicken breasts                                                           1/2 red bell pepper
Olive oil                                                                           1 can Campbell's cheddar cheese
Chili powder                                                                    Shredded cheddar cheese
Garlic powder                                                                  2 boxes pie crusts
1/2 yellow onion                                                             

Now Let's Make Chicken Empanada!
Start by cooking your chicken. Drizzle some olive oil into your cast iron skillet.  Roll your chicken breasts through the olive oil to coat all sides, then arrange them flat side down in the skillet.  Lightly sprinkle the chicken with garlic powder, then liberally sprinkle them with chili powder. Bake at 375F until the chicken is cooked and white throughout (there should be absolutely no pink, unless you want to spend a couple days worshipping the porcelain gods).  I like to do this step with whatever I'm cooking the night before, so that the chicken is ready to go the next day. If you have any left over (ie from a roast), feel free to skip this step and use that instead, just know that you need about a 14 - 16 oz of meat.

Insert witty caption here.
If your oven isn't still set to 375F, begin preheating it now. Using your two forks, begin shredding the chicken.  Use one fork to hold the chicken breast in place.  Firmly drag the other fork across the chicken breast, using it as a claw to pull the chicken apart.  Try not to shred the chicken too finely; you want bite size pieces of chicken. Repeat this process until all your chicken is shredded. If you're working with leftovers of a whole chicken the process is similar, although you may be pulling pieces of the appropriate size directly from the chicken. Place the shredded chicken in your large mixing bowl.

Take out the pan you plan to use for sauteing and warm a small amount of olive oil in it over medium heat. While the oil warms, dice your onion.  Cut off the non-root end, then moving around the onion make even cuts that stop just shy of the root.  Then, root-end facing away from your knife, begin chopping the onion for a quick dice.  Add half the onion to the pan (reserve the other half for another cooking adventure).  

Next, begin dicing your red bell pepper.  Cut the pepper in half, reserving one half for another day.  Remove the stem and carefully cut away the seeded white part from the inside of the pepper. You should only have red left by the time you're done (do not skip this step; the white flesh can be really bitter. Patooie!).  Holding the pepper down with one hand, make vertical slices that run the length of the pepper (starting from the stem end and going down, as opposed to across the pepper; click to enlarge the picture).  Gather your slices into a bunch and cut across them to dice the pepper.  Add this to the pan with the onion and saute until tender. 

Sorry for the blur.
Once the onion and pepper are mostly tender, add them to the mixing bowl with the chicken.  Open the can of cheddar cheese and add it to the bowl. Add chili powder to taste.  I usually add a lot; at least another tablespoon.  You want enough so that the chili powder is visibly and liberally dispersed throughout the mixture.  Mix everything together thoroughly.  

Mmmm. Cheesy.
Spread a pie crust flat on each of your cookie sheets (a wider sheet definitely helps).  Spread the chicken and cheese mixture evenly over each of the pie crusts leaving about an inch to spare all around the outer edge. Top with a layer of shredded cheese. This recipe calls for cheddar, because that's what you'll see pictured. However, a colby monterrey-jack blend is also very tasty.  You can either shred your own or use pre-shredded.  

Place another pie crust over the top of the filling.  Seal the edges together by pressing around the outer edge with your fingers.  Try to get as close to the filling as possible with your seal, but don't actually press on the filling part (this will cause an explosion; ask me how I know).  Trim the excess pie crust from around the edge, then seal more firmly by pressing one of your forks along the edge of the crust. Reserve any excess crust for another recipe (waste not! You could turn this into tartlets or turnovers). Using the fork, poke a few holes in the top. Repeat for the other empanada.

Bake at 375F for about 30-40 minutes until the top has turned a nice golden brown.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream and garnish with fresh cilantro.  Yum! (I may or may not have been too busy nomming this to get a good picture of it on the plate all pretty. Heh heh).



  1. Charlotte I and Loren II would be proud of your descriptions!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Mama! What part of the descriptions/instructions do you like so much?

  3. Well, without quoting specific parts, I guess that I would have to say that you give many little tips that help a novice have a more rewarding experience...things that an experienced home-chef just does without thinking, like getting rid of the pith in the pepper and saving unused onion for the next meal.

    1. Ah. Pith. That's the word I was trying to think of! Also, thanks.

  4. AND...Charlotte #1 would be very proud of your excellent writing skills (description and analysis) in your associated book reviews. Remember the pen necklace that she wore around her neck? Didn't she give you one of those?

    1. I've got her blue one. I still have it, but it needs ink.


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