Saturday 7 April 2012

Empanadas with Chicken in a Cherry Sauce to Celebrate the 2nd Birthday of my Blog!

The inside of a chicken in a cherry sauce empanada

Dear readers,

I wanted to make a dish with chicken and a cherry sauce to celebrate the second birthday of Chicken in a Cherry Sauce. I am in Argentina so what better idea is there to make other than one of the most abundant foods in the country - empanadas (similar to Cornish pasties) with chicken in a cherry sauce?!

Chicken in a cherry sauce empanadas

It seems that cherries are extremely scarce in Buenos Aires. My boyfriend and I searched all over the city for something cherry. In all of the main supermarkets, there were no cherry jams or cherry preserves, no dried cherries… just nothing!

Chicken in a cherry sauce empanadas

After much time searching, we finally found a small jar of cherries in syrup in a tiny corner shop. These weren’t ideal for a savoury cherry dish, but at least they were cherries! I then realised that we needed some sort of jam to thicken the sauce. I adapted this cherry sauce recipe from Delia’s sour cherry sauce that she accompanies with roast duck (I made this a few years back and it was fabulous). Clever novio [boyfriend] found a jar of cherry preserve in another tiny store that his grandmother had recommended. Perfecto!

The inside of a chicken in a cherry sauce empanada

As I researched empanada recipes on the internet beforehand, I was shocked to find that almost all of the recipes used shop-bought empanada pastry discs. I’m pretty sure that England does not sell these, and I didn’t want to cheat. I was definitely going to make my own dough. I roughly followed this recipe by Laylita; however, I found the dough to be very tough and difficult to handle. I made another batch with a lot more water and the dough was perfect.

Chicken in a cherry sauce empanada

As I read in many empanada blog posts, they really are time consuming to make. But I also read that they are totally worth it – and they definitely were. I couldn’t live with myself knowing that I’d cheated with pre-made empanada discs!

This recipe makes 15 empanadas.

Empanada dough (modified from Laylita's recipe):

500g plain flour
150g butter
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt
~250ml water
1 egg for glazing the empanadas

Chicken in a cherry sauce:

2 chicken breasts
10-15 cherries (preferably fresh, but jarred/tinned are sufficient)
½ bottle red wine
1 jar of cherry preserve or jam
1 teaspoon thyme


Empanada dough: Mix together the flour, salt and butter in a large bowl
using a spoon until a breadcrumb-like texture is formed. Mix in the egg and water to form a dough. Separate the dough into two balls. Wrap the dough balls in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for approximately 30 minutes.

Chicken in a cherry sauce: Bake the chicken breasts on a greased baking tray for 25 minutes at 200
°C. Slice the cherries in half. Add the wine, cherries, thyme and preserve/jam to a saucepan and simmer on a low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the wine has reduced and a thick sauce is achieved. Slice the chicken into small cubes and combine with the cherry sauce.

Filling the empanadas: Take the dough from the fridge and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the pastry
to a thickness of ~2mm using a lightly floured rolling pin. Use a round 10cm diameter pastry cutter or cut around a small plate to make the empanada discs.

Place a heaped tablespoon full of the filling into the centre of the disc. Brush the edges of the disc with a little egg to glue the edges together. Fold over the pastry to create a semi circle and press down the edges to seal the empanada.

Pinch the edge of the pastry with two fingers and fold over. Continue this action with the rest of the empanada. (It takes a couple of empanadas to get the hang of it! This short video shows the folding technique.) One may prefer to crimp the edges using a fork instead. Brush the empanadas with egg before placing on a greased baking tray and bake at 200
°C for 25 minutes, or, until they are golden brown.

Note: I ended up using a clean sock to brush the empanadas with the egg, as I didn't have a pastry brush. It worked very well!

Meat empandas

We decided to make some traditional meat empanadas, too.

Meat empanadas

Meat filling:

500g minced beef
3 hard boiled eggs chopped into pieces
1 large finely chopped onion
1 large chopped red pepper
50g raisins
50g sliced olives
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon each of oregano, rosemary and thyme (or whichever herbs you prefer!)

Meat filling: Fry the onions, meat and herbs in a saucepan with the oil until the meat is cooked through. Add the pepper and raisins and cook for a further 15 minutes on a low heat. After cooking, mix in the olives and eggs.

The folded edges of the meat empanadas

We both preferred the chicken and cherry sauce empanadas, yet still enjoyed the meat ones, too. The folding of the edges can be tedious, but I think they look just beautiful (even more so after baking). Practice makes perfect! They also provide a nice crunch in contrast to the rest of the empanada.

The inside of a meat empanada

Meat empanadas

Happy 2nd Birthday to Chicken in a Cherry Sauce!

Life has, indeed, become busier since the 1st birthday of Chicken in a Cherry Sauce and, as a result, it has been difficult to keep up with regular blog posts. Blogging has helped me a great deal with my professional, as well as my social (by all you fellow bloggers!) and indeed my life in the world of food. I absolutely adore blogging about food and I'm very much looking forward to another year of it. Thank you, so much, to all of my readers. Every comment about my blog, whether online or in person, always brings a huge smile to my face and a great deal of happiness! Thanks to all of the beautiful food blogs out there that have inspired me - I can honestly say that I spend more time on food blogs than any other site on the internet! Please continue your great support, it is truly appreciated.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

El Submarino

Dear readers,

I am back in the southern hemisphere experiencing pleasant autumnal sunshine, similar to that of a good day in the British summer.

Submarino is a popular beverage that appears on the menu of every café that sits on every corner of Buenos Aires. Submarino simply translates to English as "submarine". The simple name is perfect for such a beverage as it consists purely of hot milk and a piece of dark chocolate, which is sometimes shaped into a submarine. One submerges the chocolate into the hot milk and stirs as the chocolate melts and mixes with the milk to form an Argentine version of hot chocolate.

During my trip last December, I never sampled the Submarino due to the extreme heat and humidity. However, as the season has entered early autumn, the weather is becoming cooler. South of the capital, at a beach town called Pinamar, the windy coastline provides the perfect setting to sample this beverage.

Despite my love for dark chocolate, I was disappointed with this drink. I think that the name and the idea of creating the hot chocolate at the table are more interesting than the drink itself. Perhaps the milk wasn't hot enough to create a smooth consistency, or maybe there was too much milk for the small piece of chocolate. It was lost. The chocolate merely provided a grainy mouth-feel to the milk. I am surprised that such a simple drink, without the addition of sugar, is so abundant on the menus of a country with such a sweet tooth!

However much my palate prefers less-sweet desserts, I can't help but imagine that this drink would be better with the addition of a little something sweet, such as honey, sugar or even dulce de leche, or, maybe, all it needs is a little more chocolate...