Making empanadas is a labor of love. The recipe for our pint-size version, which streamlines the process by calling for store-bought pie dough, can also be assembled ahead of time and baked just before serving. The filling requires no cooking other than of the chicken, which can be cooked and shredded in advance. The remaining ingredients—sharp cheddar cheese, lime juice, cilantro, chipotle, and green olives—don't require a lot of coaxing either. We use the food processor to create a vibrant salsa that comes together in minutes. To make this dish spicier, reserve the jalapeño seeds and add them with the jalapeño. Our favorite store-bought pie dough is Wholly Wholesome 9" Certified Organic Traditional Bake at Home Rolled Pie Dough.
1 cup finely shredded cooked chicken
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped fine
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
Salt and pepper
2 packages store-bought pie dough
1 small onion, quartered
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tomatoes, cored and chopped coarse
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. For the empanadas: Combine chicken, cheddar, olives, cilantro, lime juice, and chipotle in bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
2. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using 3 1/2-inch round cutter, cut circles out of dough rounds (6 circles per round); discard scraps.
3. Working with half of dough circles at a time, place 2 teaspoons empanada filling in center of each. Moisten edges of dough circles with water, then fold dough over filling into half-moon shape. Pinch edges to seal, then crimp with fork to secure. Arrange empanadas on prepared sheet, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
4. For the salsa: Pulse onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and salt in food processor until minced, about 10 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add tomatoes and pulse until chopped, about 2 pulses. (At this point, vegetable mixture can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.) Transfer to serving bowl and stir in vinegar and oil. Let salsa sit at room temperature until flavors meld, about 30 minutes.
5. When ready to serve, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F. Bake empanadas until golden, 23 to 28 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve with salsa.
To Make Ahead: Unbaked empanadas can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month; bake as directed. Salsa can be refrigerated for up 24 hours; bring to room temperature and season with salt to taste before serving.
Copyright 2016 America's Test Kitchen. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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