Friday 20 January 2012

Gluten Free Chicken Empanadas

gluten free chicken empanada
Chicken Empanada
Since the discovery of the wonderful masa harina we've gone a little empanadas crazy. It was all about the tamales to begin with, but then I started searching around for other Mexican things to make with masa harina and well, we've not been the same since we discovered empanadas.

Last night we had a very rare shared weekday dinner and I ate the most I have in years. We decided on using chicken rather than pork this time for quickness and oh. my. gosh. I thought I'd nailed it with the pork but due to some stove top smoking action, these were even better!

I'll focus on the joys on stove top smoking in another post because you really can't beat the flavours and it's so easy to do.

We used bourbon soaked oak wood chips to smoke chicken breast and garlic cloves for these empanadas, I wasn't going for a traditional Mexican vibe this time, I kind of think that the habanero incident may have had something to do with that! I knew exactly what I wanted flavour-wise and just threw the ingredients together, I'm always at my best when I cook from instinct.

Here's the recipe for about 12 empanadas:


1 free range Chicken Breast
1 medium Onion
2 large-ish Mushrooms
6 Garlic Cloves
4 tablespoons Milk
2 tablespoons Sour Cream
Pinch of Garlic Salt
Pinch Sea Salt
40g Garlic Butter
3 tablespoons Corn Oil
Gluten free Chicken Stock
Vegetable Oil for deep frying
Bourbon Soaked Wood Chips

gluten free chicken empanada filling
Chicken Empanada Filling
  1. Cut the chicken into small pieces around 2cm squared
  2. Peel the garlic cloves
  3. Put all into a prepped stove top smoker with the wood chips and smoke for 15-20 minutes
  4. Dice an onion into small pieces, roughly slice and chop the mushrooms
  5. Heat the butter and oil and add the onions and garlic salt
  6. Saute the onions until soft but without colour
  7. Add the mushrooms, saute until cooked, 2 - 3 minutes
  8. Remove from heat and add the milk and sour cream
  9. Mix so you get a creamy sauce covering the onions and mushrooms
  10. Add the sea salt
  11. Break the chicken into smaller pieces with a utensil
  12. Mince the smoked garlic into the pan and stir
  13. Keep to one side
To Make The Empanada Batter:

Mix equal quantities of masa harina and gluten free chicken stock together to make a dough. For the amount we made we used about 3-4 cups of masa harina. The thing is with this dough, it's one of those things that exact measurements aren't really called for. You put a cup or 2 cups of masa harina into a bowl, add the same amount of stock and mix, if the dough is too sticky add a little more masa harina, mix and if you need more flour, add more. You want the masa (dough) to neither stick to your hands nor to be crumbly, it's a bit like the texture of play-doh.

gluten free empanada dough
Empanada Dough Ready To Be Filled
Putting The Empanadas Together

  1. Cover a flat surface with cling film
  2. Pick pieces of the dough from the bowl and press into the cling film to make an area of dough large enough to cut a 5" circle from (we use the rim of a storage container)
  3. Remove excess dough and put around 2 teaspoons of the smoked chicken filling into the center
  4. Lift the top of the cling film up and over the dough at the top so the edges meet
  5. Crimp, starting with the outer edges
  6. Make sure the empanada is well sealed and put to one side
  7. Continue until all the filling is used up
If you find you run out of dough, make more, it's so easy. This is why so long as you stick to the basic equal flour and stock recipe, then tweak it if need be, you can't go wrong.

empanada ready to be folded
Empanada Ready To Be Folded and Crimped
Cooking The Empanadas:
  1. Heat a good vegetable oil on high in a large pan (we use 1-2 blocks of Crisp n Dry as it never makes our food greasy)
  2. If you need to test the temperature put a small piece of empanada dough into the oil, if it floats it's hot enough
  3. Carefully lower the empanadas into the hot oil and fry until golden, 3 minutes should do it (you'll need to do this in batches)
  4. Drain on kitchen paper
gluten free empanada
Just Cooked
Printable Version

We did something unusual for us last night, we would usually cook all the empanadas and then sit down to eat but last night the temptation was too much. A test empanada was placed into the oil and as soon as it came out and somewhat cooled, we halved and ate it. We did this with all of them and I suspect this is why I ended up eating so much more than I've been able to in recent years.

chicken empanada
Eat Me!
I love picky foods, I've always enjoyed eating as I'm making far more than sitting down with a huge plate of food because I love to graze. Roast dinners were always best eaten was the meat was being carved with a crispy roast potato stuck on the end of a fork, I say were, I haven't cooked a roast in ages because I love experimenting.

I don't know for certain how many empanadas were made but I know that I was so full afterwards that I didn't want to move from the sofa. I fear that I am going to have to curb this empanada addiction as there once was a time when I wouldn't eat anything fried, now it's a weekly occurrence and my jeans don't fit. To be fair though, my jeans haven't fitted properly since I went gluten free, not on a regular basis anyway due to bloating. I absolutely hate the bloating.

Thoughts of bloating aside, these smoked chicken empanadas were something else, I just wish I had photos (another excuse to have more! EDIT: We did have more!), though they look exactly the same on the outside as the pork empanadas. These are totally in the gluten free naughtiness recipe section, but a little of what you fancy does you good.

*Stares at treadmill*

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