February 24, 2011 by Dana
Sometimes, when I’m trying to figure out what to say about a particular recipe or topic, I realize that someone else has already said it perfectly.
Since Joanne from Eats Well With Others often has thoughts that are often as wacky as similar to mine, it came as no surprise that her prompt for the Brazil edition of Regional Recipes resonated so well with me:
I could use a vacation.
And from what I hear, it’s summer in Brazil right now. That whole south of the equator thing. It works out well sometimes. Let’s go.
As soon as I read this, I went straight to Orbitz, found the next one way ticket to Rio de Janeiro, and booked it on the spot!
If I didn’t have a job… or school… or any other responsibilities… and was independently wealthy, I totally would have. But since I’m not Paris Hilton, I was forced to find another way to add a little Brazilian sunshine to my life.
These Lime Chicken Empanadas with Ranchero Ranch Dressing were just the thing! Seriously, how could the delicious combo of lime, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and the kick of spicy ranch dressing not make you feel like you’re in a tropical locale?
2 chicken breasts
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons chile powder
1 large onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
6-8 ounces spreadable goat cheese
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold water
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1.5 tablespoon water (do not beat until ready to bake)
1 cup ranch dressing, already made
1/4 teaspoon chile powder (any flavor)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
This recipe is a combination of a few from about.com and a few from Martha Stewart’s website. Sorry I can’t be more precise, but I used aspects of several different recipes to come up with this one.
1. Slice the chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick strips. Place them in a crockpot, and add the chicken stock.
2. Juice the limes and add the juice to the crockpot. Stir in the chile powder.
3. Cook the chicken on low heat for 6 hours, or until chicken is tender and pulls apart easily.
4. Remove chicken pieces from crockpot and shred. Stir 2 to 3 tablespoons of the juices left in the crockpot into the shredded chicken.
5. Slice the onion into thin slices. Place the sliced onion in a skillet with the olive oil and the teaspoon of sugar, and cook over very low heat until golden caramel brown, about 25 minutes.
6. Add onions to the shredded chicken.
7. Mix goat cheese and into the chicken. Season chicken mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
8. To make the dough: In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add just enough cold water so dough comes together.
9. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface, and divide in half. Knead each half 2 or 3 times to form smooth balls.
10. Cover dough balls with plastic; let stand until slightly risen, 20 minutes.
11. Roll out half of the empanada dough very thinly, 1/4″ thick or less. Cut 4 to 5 inch circles of dough.
12. Place about 2 teaspoons of the chicken mixture inside each circle of dough. Fold the dough in half over the filling, making a half moon shape, and pinch the edges together to seal in the filling.
13. Fold curved edges under and crimp decoratively.
14. Repeat with the rest of the filling and dough (you may end up with extra dough or extra filling – it seems to work out differently each time).
15. If freezing for later use, freeze on a baking sheet until firm, 2 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic; freeze in plastic bags.
16. To bake fresh or frozen empanadas, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg wash, avoiding crimped edges. Bake until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 25 to 35 minutes.
17. While empanadas are baking, make dressing by Combining ranch dressing chile powder and cumin in a small bowl. Whisk well. Let sit for at least 10 minutes for full flavor.
18. Serve empanadas warm or at room temperature, with ranchero ranch dressing for dipping.
These empanadas were SO GOOD. But let me just warn you… it probably would have been quicker to actually fly to Rio and pick some up. It took me a long time to roll out the dough, and fill and assemble each empanada. If you are more accustomed to working with/rolling out dough, this probably will be less of an issue for you. Don’t let this fact scare you…. it’s totally worth it!