An empanada is simply a stuffed bread or pastry made with different types of doughs, fillings and cooking methods. As for the stuffing anything goes, really; simply use your creativity 🙂 Some more traditional fillings are meat, tuna, vegetables, cheese.
Empanadas have their origins in Galicia (Spain) and Portugal. Their first appearance was in Medieval Iberia during the Moorish invasions. Many other countries have also introduced their own versions of empanadas; for example Italy has calzones and India samosas.
In the 1900’s emigrants from Spain and Portugal started moving to Latin America bringing with them their culture, cuisine, and hard work. That is how Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia have their own versions of empanadas.
For this recipe I have started with an Ecuadorian recipe called Empanada de Morocho. When I lived in Ecuador the preparation of this empanadas was very long and tedious, starting with soaking the dried white hominy overnight, cooking it, drying it and then grinding it. A very long process that I was not interested in following. So, the dried white hominy was replaced with Harina P.A.N.; the corn flour that is part of Venezuelan staple diet; this way cutting down the preparation time to more than half.
If you are not vegetarian and would like to try meat fillings check Ground Turkey Empanadas or this Spanish version of an empanada filled with chicken. It is important that when using any of these fillings that they are dry. If the filling is wet the empanada dough will fall apart. In that case what you could do is let the liquid of the filling drain in a colander.
The first time I prepared this GF Empanadas I baked, oil fried and air fried them to see which one was crunchier. In my experience they were all crunchy even the air fried ones but because the air fryer we have at home is so small it was a better option to bake them. It is up to you which cooking method you prefer and also how much time you have.
Any left over empanadas can be refrigerated (for up to 5 days) or frozen (for a month).
- 1 ½ cups of P.A.N 100% white corn instant dough pre-cooked white maize meal
- 1 ¾ cups of warm water amount may vary depending on dough consistency.
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon of Canola oil
- 2 pieces of round plastic cut out from a bag. Freezer bags are the best ones to use. Or use Cling Wrap.
- About 1½ cup of Canola oil for frying
- Preheat the oven to 450 ˚F.
- Mix the P.A.N. flour, oil, salt and warm water in a bowl. First mix the dough with a spoon and then knead until smooth. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 8-10 balls and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Place a ball of dough between two pieces of plastic (cling wrap) and using a rolling pin flatten until it is flattened to your liking. Not too thin because the dough can break once the filling is in.
- Remove the top piece of plastic and spoon the stuffing close to the bottom edge (1 to 1 ½ teaspoons) making sure to leave enough room at the edges so that the empanada can be sealed.
- Using the piece of plastic where the dough lies, fold the dough over and you will have a semi-circle. Press the edges to make sure they are well sealed to avoid any leaks when the empanada is fried. Use a cup or even a round Pyrex container to cut the edge of the empanada (this step is not necessary if you prefer to simply use a knife to cut the extra dough on the edge). Place the finished empanada over a tray previously covered with parchment paper and cover with plastic wrap to avoid drying. Continue with the remaining empanada balls.
- Once all the empanadas are prepared, It’s now time to bake!
- Bake the empanadas for 10 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy.
- Serve hot, enjoy!