Latin American appetizers from The Latin Road Home. "The dough must rest properly and has to be rolled out thinly to be workable, but once you get it down, this is an easy dough to handle. When forming the empanadas, make sure the edges are well sealed so they don't leak while frying. You can roll and crimp the edges a few times to help ensure that they're closed up tightly. Fully formed empanadas de viento can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and foil, for up to 2 months; thaw in the refrigerator before frying. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 1 day."
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 lb. queso fresco cheese, grated (2 cups)
2 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Pickled onions, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving
Step 1: To make the dough, sift the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl. Use a pastry blender to cut the vegetable shortening into the dry ingredients until it is fully incorporated. Add the egg yolk and mix well. Adding 2 or 3 tbsp at a time, knead in the water with your hands until a smooth dough forms. Pat the dough into a round, flat disc and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before making the empanadas.
Step 2: To assemble the empanadas, divide the chilled dough into 12 1" balls. Using a manual tortilla press, a rolling pin, or the heel of your hand, press each dough ball into a circle about 1/8" thick and about 6" in diameter.
Step 3: Mound about 2 tbsp of cheese in the centre of each round and fold the dough over to form a half-moon. Use a dinner fork to crimp the outer edge. Alternatively, use a plastic empanada press from a Latin market.
Step 4: To cook the empanadas, heat the oil to 350°F in a stockpot, using a candy or deep-fry thermometer to monitor the temperature. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fry the empanadas in batches until they are golden brown and crispy, 3-4 minutes each, turning once in the oil. Drain them on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar before serving with pickled onions and hot sauce on the side.
Makes 12 empanadas
Reprinted with permission from Jose Garces' The Latin Road Home (2012 Lake Isle Press).