Three Sisters Empanadas

Earlier today I was telling a coworker, and fellow kitchen aficionado, about how I dabbled in empanada making over the weekend. As we got into an intense conversation about the wonderful and very wide world of possible fillings we got to talking about my three favorite foods: squash, beans, and corn. This trio has stood the test of time, playing a huge part in Native American cuisine! Ha, I tricked you into a history lesson! Think wayyyyy back to elementary school when Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to plant. Yep. The combination is based on an old myth called the three sisters. Because I used squash, corn. and black beans as the filling for these emapanadas, I found the name fitting. Thanks, Shae!

***Disclaimer*** While the following recipe is purely vegetarian, I do not think it is necessarily healthy. Just wait til you see how much butter I used. But really, is there any other way? I ate 2 for dinner and then took Gypsy for a walk so I don’t feel too bad.

Alrighty. Let’s get down to it! Here is what you’ll need:

For Filling

3 squashes- I used yellow, zucchini, and calabacita

1 can corn, rinsed and drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 tbs oil for sauteing

Spices: ~2tbs salt, ~2tbs pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic powder to taste

For the Dough

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tbs granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

10 tbs very cold butter (told ya!)

1/4 cup cold milk

1 cup very cold water

More flour for dusting

Egg wash for sealing: 1 egg beaten + 1 tbs water + garlic powder

The Process

Starting with the dough would probably be the best idea since it can be refrigerated for later use. When looking up recipes for empanadas, I found many “oh just use a can of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls” recipes. Uhhhhh pfffft, that is disgusting. I like making my dough. Actually, I love it. After some more searching on Pinterest and Food Gawker I decided to combine recipes I found. I wanted these empanadas to have a flaky crust. Oh, and they sure did!

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour, salt, and sugar. Image
  2. Next, cut your very cold butter into cubes and add to the dry mixture. I read somewhere that working with ice cold butter adds to the flakiness of your dough- think croissants!Image
  3. Using your hands, unless you have a fancy food processor, work the butter into the flour. You want it to resemble a coarse meal, so it is more than okay if some of your butter is a bit chunky, just as long as the majority of the flour is incorporated. ImageThe texture should look like this.Image
  4. Next, add in your milk and flour. Work with the dough into a ball, adding flour as you go to detract from stickiness. Image
  5. Your dough should not be too sticky, but transfer to a flour surface anyway. Also, DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH. We will use a different technique to ensure that these empanadas have a flaky texture.Image
  6. Using the palms of your hands, pat the dough. Think back even farther than elementary history lessons- paddycake, paddycake, baker’s man. Keep patting until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick.ImageFold over.ImageAnd one more time.Image
  7. Pat down once more until the dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 2×2 inch cubes. Not all will be uniform.ImageIf not using right away, go ahead and refrigerate your dough.

Now onto the filling, your three sisters!

  1. After washing and cutting the ends off of your squash, grate onto a cutting board or a large mixing bowl. Image
  2. Add your rinsed and drained cans of black beans and corn to the mixing bowl.ImageGive it a good mix through with your hands and then transfer to a large saucepan.
  3. In 2 tbs of oil, I used vegetable, sautee the three sisters with salt and pepper, cumin, cayenne, and garlic powder. Image
  4. After sauteing for about 15 minutes, transfer the mixture so an oven safe dish. put under broiler for about 15 minutes or until “blackened”. I like the roasted flavor this gives the squash!

Finally we have the dough and filling. We can start to assemble our empanadas! This is my favorite part!

  1. On a floured surface, work with one square of dough at a time. Pat down and use a rolling pin to lightly flatten into a circular shape. Heap about 1-2 tbs of your filling into the center of your dough.Image
  2. In a small cup or bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 1 tbs water, and some garlic powder, This makes an egg wash, which will be used to seal the dough. A marinade brush works best, but I don’t have one of those. I do dye my hair a lot at home, so a color brush will do the job. JUST BE SURE TO WASH IT FIRST! ImageImage
  3. After adding your filling to the center of the dough, brush the egg wash around the edges, like so.ImageI was an empanada overachiever and also made a chorizo, potato, cilantro, and swiss filling! OMG yum!Image
  4. Fold the dough over, making sure the filling does not escape. I was a pro at this around mid batch. My first empanadas were ugly. Yours might be, too.Image
  5. Finally! Seal the edges with the prongs of a fork, glaze with egg wash,  and you are ready to bake on a parchment paper lined pan in a pre-heated oven set to 350 degrees until golden. ImageImageImageServe with your favorite salsa! I am biased towards my own spicy verde. The three sisters are one happy family in your mouth!Image

That is that!