Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas – from Leftovers?

Empanadas have long been a favorite indulgence, whether made with a traditional filling to some crazy wild combination, they’re just fun to eat! From the flavorful filling to the crispy, flaky pastry, they practically shout party! These Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas are no exception.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas
Marvelous Empanadas


I heard of Empanadas long before I ever had one – of families getting together to make dozens for holidays. I can only imagine the labor of love. There’s no need to wait for a holiday, though, if you just want a few. Sure, they’re a little involved to make but with a good dough recipe, it goes much easier.

About Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas:

It also goes easier if you’re not making a filling from scratch: I make Empanadas like these Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas all the time from what’s in my fridge or from a “planned leftover.” That’s just what it sounds like – I’ll make extra of something just so I can use it later in another dish.

Don’t ya just get annoyed with those people that won’t eat leftovers? Well, don’t let them have any of these! 🙂

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
Some options for fillings & flavors beyond Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas:

These Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas start with Pulled Pork in the Slow Cooker & the Empanada recipe is below, but there’s no need to limit yourself.

I’ve made killer empanadas, in addition to the Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas:

  • Barbecue Empanadas
  • Empanadas from leftover Pot Roast Carbonnade and Provolone that tasted like a gourmet Philly Cheesesteak
  • Empanadas with Tinga de Pollo combined with sautéed onions and peppers
  • Empanadas with Korean Beef
  • Check out this DC Empanada food truck’s menu for inspiration!

So next time you have any kind of soft, braised leftovers, just about anything that will shred (it can’t be too pokey or it will make a hole in the dough) think about making some Empanadas. What flavor would you come up with?

Rules of Thumb to make your own filling:

You’ll need four cups of filling mixture for my dough if the dough is rolled according to the instructions, about 1/8″ thick and cut into five-inch rounds. This makes 12,  each with 1/3 of a cup of filling.

Other amounts, smaller or larger may leave you with a little too much filling or too much dough. Not the end of the world, but still. Use any combination of shredded meat or poultry (or go vegetarian) and cooked vegetables. I like about two cups of shredded beef, chicken or pork and two cups of cooked vegetables.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas
Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas Filling
Optional Cheese:

Add some cheese if you’d like; a 1/2 a cup or so doesn’t make much difference in volume, but if you use more, reduce the amount of vegetables or meat by a bit – not by a straight one to one ratio, because the cheese melts into nothing – for a cup of cheese, I’d reduce the rest of the filling by about a half a cup. Remember, it all has to fit inside the round of dough!

Amounts of vegetables:

You’ll just have to guesstimate if you’re going to cook vegetables for made up Empanadas – I’d say three cups of raw veggies in a small dice will generally amount to around two cups cooked, but this varies.

If you come up short of the four cups of filling, add a few more veggies to the filling or add frozen peas or corn, dice up some potato, sweet potato or carrot and microwave it for a minute or two, or root through the fridge to see what might work.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas
See how no moisture seeps into the trough here?
Getting the filling just right for Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas:

When you cook up the filling , you’ll need to add a little water or broth and let the filling simmer with whatever spices or sauces you add, for a few minutes, at least, just to combine and meld the flavors.

When the filling is moist, but a spoon is run through, exposing the bottom, and no juices flow into the space left behind, you’ll know your filling is perfect – not too wet and not too dry. Let your filling cool before assembling the Empanada.

Hints on sealing and baking your Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas:

One more hint! After making the Empanadas, they seem to hold their seal better and bake up flakier if refrigerated for 1/2 an hour, covered, before being brushed with egg wash and baked. I didn’t think to do this with this batch and a few did open.

Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas
Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas

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Chipotle Pulled Pork Empanadas – from Leftovers?

This recipe is marvelous but be sure to read the post if you want all the hints and help to fashion up your own.

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Total Time: 1 hr 10 min + chill, optional
  • Yield: 12 empanadas

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 diced onion, small dice
  • 1 cup finely diced sweet potato
  • 1/2 each diced red and green pepper, small dice
  • 2 cups shredded pork (notice this pork already has some mild flavor)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • a cup of chopped greens, 1/2 inch pieces, kale is great
  • 1 minced Chipotle in Adobo (one pepper, not one can)
  • 1 few dashes of red wine vinegar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey, a small drizzle, to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 five-inch rounds of Empanada dough
  • 1 egg, mixed with a little water, about a tablespoon
  • Sea salt, to sprinkle on top, optional (not traditional)

Instructions

Add oil to a  large skillet, heat and saute onions and sweet potato for several minutes, until the sweet potato has softened. Add the bell peppers and saute until tender but still a little crisp. Add the pork, water, minced Chipotle pepper, and kale, stir to mix. Add honey and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook until the moisture is mostly evaporated and a spoon, run across the bottom to separate the ingredients leaves a dry path. Cool completely.

When cool and Empanada dough is ready, if cooking right away, preheat oven to 425 degrees. (Note: I’ve noticed if Empanadas are filled and refrigerated for a half an hour before cooking, the dough seems flakier and they seem to have a better seal. If you are going to refrigerate before cooking, hold off on the preheating and the egg wash!) Add a piece of parchment to a cookie sheet, mix egg and water for a wash.

To each round of dough, wet one half of the inside edge with egg wash. Fill with 1/3 cup of filling. Fold so the egg wash side meets the side without: I find this easiest to do in the palm of my hand. I place the dough in my palm, brush 1/2 with the egg wash, add the filling. With the other hand, I pinch the top edges closed, then pinch down each side to the points.

When the dough is pinched closed, go around the outside edge of the empanada again, pressing so there is a lip about a half-inch wide, all along the pinched edge. Lay on clean counter and press lightly with the tines of a fork, all along the edge, being careful not to pierce the body of the Empanada. Continue with the rest of the Empanadas in the same manner. (The edge of the dough could be turned instead of pressed.)

Brush each Empanada with egg wash and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a little bit of sea salt. Bake at 425 until dough is browned and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes or so. Ovens vary, and the temperature is hot, so check at 15 and keep checking!

Notes

This recipe doubles easily and Empanadas freeze very well before they’re cooked. Simply make the Empanadas, but don’t brush with the egg wash. Lay them out on a flat surface in the freezer, preferably a surface covered with parchment. When frozen, wrap each individually and put into a larger bag or bags if desired.

Time does not include the dough and is based on starting with a cooked protein.

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