Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bocaditos and Empanadas

Empanadas1 first appeared in a Catalan cookbook (from Catalonia) back in the 1500s. It is believed that they originated in Spain and Portugal, and like the Italian calzone, it’s thought that empanadas were derived from Persian meat-filled pie (samosa dating back to prior to the 10th century.) Empanadas also exist in the Hindi culture where they are also served with chutney. In Malaysia, these may be filled with vegetarian curries.

Each country makes Bocaditos (morsels or mouth bits) a little bit different. The same is true for Empanadas. There are recipes from Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Costa Rico, Columbia, Brazil...

Either Costa Rican empanadas are filled with seasoned meats (pork, beef or chicken) or cheese, beans, cubed potato stews. These empanadas are normally made with corn dough and fried.

In Salvadorian cuisine, plantain dough is stuffed with a thick savory paste of re-fried black beans, then fried and served with a chile salsa.

Savory bocaditos and empanadas go well with a slightly sweet dough. You made add a little sugar to sweeten the dough (1~2 tablespoons sugar per 3 cups masa or dough). If frying empanadas, omit the egg and roll the dough slightly thinner.

Plantain Dough

Start with 3 pounds of ripe yellow plantain with black blotches. Wash plantains thoroughly. Trim ends from bananas and quarter the sections. Cover the sections with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes until tender. Drain well, Peel bananas, and place peeled sections in a food processor. Processes in pulses until smooth. Cool dough refrigerator before using. Make empanadas with a thick dough less they come apart. Fry 5-7 minutes per side. In many countries, plantain empanadas are often served as a sweet.

Flour Dough

3 Cups all purpose flour
½ Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Large egg
4 Tablespoons Cold butter
4 Tablespoons rendered lard
5 or 6 Tablespoons ice water

Place all ingredients except water in a food processor. (Use the dough blade if you have one.) Pulse to cut up butter and mix in lard. Then add a little water at a time, pulse until dough forms. (Knead until smooth.) Rest dough in refrigerator 60 minutes to fully hydrate before using. Roll out dough on a floured surface as needed.

Masa Harina Dough

2 Cups masa harina2
2 Teaspoon kosher salt3
2 Cups warm water
1 Tablespoon of sugar if making savory empanadas
Dissolve salt (and optionally, sugar) in warm water. Place masa in food processor using dough blade. Pour salted water over masa pulsing until smooth. Empanada dough can be made several hours in advance. Let dough rest in a covered bowl 60 minutes to fully hydrate. Divide the dough into 2-tablespoon-size pieces and roll into balls. Place a ball of masa between two plastic sheets (I use plastic report covers.) and press with a tortilla-press to flatten.


Filling are best at room temperature except if using plantain dough, which is more fastidious. Practically anything can be used as a filling including but not limited to:
Any stew but not excessively runny
Cooked vegetables but not excessively runny
Pork, Beef, Chicken dishes
Catalan potatoes with chorizo
Carne asada
Roast chicken with rosemary red potatoes
Carnitas and roasted poblano peppers
Apricot Pineapple preserves
Camembert cheese and Apple


Empanada Maker

Tortilla Press















  1. Empada, in Portuguese.
  2. Masa harina is a very finely ground corn flour made from slaked corn that has been dried, cooked, ground up and dried again.
  3. Kosher salt typically a course salt that contains no additives or iodine


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