Caramelized Corn and Flame Roasted Chile Empanaditas

Caramelized Corn and Flame Roasted Chile Empanaditas

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Ready for that Cinco de Mayo fiesta?

Not to worry!   Here is a stress free empanadita (small empanada) recipe that can be whipped up ahead of time, baked, and served along with those fresh lime juice margaritas (see here), Mexican beers, and Cuba libres.

There is no need to fuss around making tortilla dough when there is puff pastry in the freezer!
I’ve been using puff pastry to make empinaditas for decades and, honestly, everyone loves the lightness as opposed to the traditional Mexican fried flour tortilla variety, that do have their merits for a hearty appetite, but these airier empinaditas are great to serve with drinks anytime.

Rustic hardy flavors of caramelized corn, roasted chilies, and Mexican cheese all tucked into pastry puffs that can be frozen and popped directly into the oven before your guests arrive. What could be easier! Serve them with guacamole (see here) and your favorite salsas or (see here).

Caramelized Corn and Flame Roasted Chile Empanaditas    Makes 22 empanadits; serving 6 to 8

  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 jalapeno chilies, flame roasted, seeded and diced
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup grated Mexican queso fresca (or a firm goat cheese)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • puff pastry dough
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • smoked paprika

Heat the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet set over medium flame. When bubbling add the corn and a pinch of salt and saute, while tossing, until the corn begins to color and pop; about 10-12 minutes. Transfer the caramelized corn to a medium size bowl and set aside. Add a half cup of water to the skillet and deglaze the pan until reduced to a nice caramel color. Add to the corn and stir in to combine.

In the same skillet set over medium flame add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and when hot add the onions and saute until soft and translucent; about 8 minutes. Transfer the onions to the corn mixture and stir to combine.

Flame roast the jalapenos (see here). When completely blistered transfer to a bowl and cover with cling film to sweat for 15 minutes. Slip the skin off the chile, remove the seeds. Dice finely and stir into the corn mixture.

Place half of the corn mixture in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are coarsely pureed. Mix the puree into the reserved corn mixture. Stir in the grated cheese until combined. Add the sour cream, oregano. and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate while you cut out the puff pastry.

Cut 22 4 inch rounds of puff pastry dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Working in small batches of four puff pastry rounds, with the remaining rounds refrigerated, works the best when filling and shaping the empanaditas.

Place a round of pastry in the palm of your hand and place a tablespoon of the corn mixture in the center of the pastry round. Spread the egg white around the edges and fold the pasty over the filling. Pinch the pasty together to enclose the filling. Then pinch the edge with your thumb and index finger to flatten a small section that extends beyond the pastry round. Fold the pinched part towards the filled area and pinch to secure. It will look like a small wave of sorts. Repeat until the filling is snugly sealed into the pastry. Don’t worry too much about your technique. It will look just fine when baked. Place the completed empinaditas on a parchment lined baking tray and refrigerate while you continue making the remaining empanaditas.

At this point the empanaditas can be frozen for later use, or just placed in the freezer for 1 hour before baking. It is essential that the pastry is very cold when ready to bake.

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C with the rack in the top position.

Line a baking tray with cooking parchment and space the empanadits about an inch apart. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle a little smoke paprika on top of each empanadita.

Serve promptly with your favorite salsa and/ or guacamole.

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