Spicy Pork Empanaditas with Chunky Avocado Relish

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Here is a recipe from another of my favourite cookbooks:  Canapes by Eric Treuille & Victoria Blashford-Snell.  As the names suggests, all the recipes in the book are for finger food.  It is great when you are having a party or for when you want an informal starter.  I have made a lot of recipes from it.

I have served this recipe twice lately but haven’t posted it for 2 reasons, which are closely related.  Firstly, there is a very long list of ingredients and I couldn’t be bothered typing them out.  Lazy, I know, but true.  Secondly, I thought, “No one is going to make this recipe as they will look at the long list of ingredients and think, ‘Nah, too hard’.”

But it is not hard to make and they taste great.  Perfect, if you are having a barbecue and want something to pass around before the barbie really gets going.  If you don’t want to, you don’t have to make the relish.  I have served the empanaditas with commercial tomato salsa and they taste just as good; some may say, even better:)

For filling:

  • 1 tbs* sunflower (or similar) oil
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 175g minced pork
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 125mls tomato juice
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbs* raisins
  • 10 green olives, chopped
  • salt and coarsely ground black pepper

For the pastry:

  • 175g flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 30g butter
  • 90mls warm water.
    (It is weird that warm water is called for.  If anyone knows why, I would love to know.)
  • 1 beaten egg, for glazing

For the relish:

  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbs* coriander, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 medium avocados
  • salt

NB:  *These are 15 mil tablespoons

For the filling:

  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Stir fry the onions for about 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the pork.  Stir constantly with a fork to break up any lumps.  Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and chillies and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the spices, tomato juice, tomato purée, raisins and olives.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 15 minutes.
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.

For pastry:

  1. Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times.
  2. Add the butter and process until just combined.
  3. While the processor is still running, very slowly drizzle in the warm water.  Stop when the dough begins to clump together.  Do not let it form a ball.
  4. Tip the dough onto your work bench and knead to form a ball (if you can’t, add a drop or two more water).
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for, at least, 30 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Roll out the pastry.
  2. Stamp out rounds with a pastry cutter (or the end of a cup or small bowl if you don’t have any cutters). The recipe called for a 6.5cm cutter but use whatever size you want.
  3. Place a little bit of filling on one side of the round.  Brush a bit of water around pastry edge and fold pastry over to make a little pasty.  Pinch edges firmly together to seal then crimp edges together with your fingertips.
    Alternatively, if you have one, use a ravioli former.  I used the one I showcased in one of my In My Kitchen posts.  Here is the link to it.  It worked perfectly.  You first use it as a cutter, then put the round of dough in the former.  Put some filling on one side, brush the edges with water and then squeeze it together.  Voila!  Perfect little pasties.  Mine wasn’t cheap but you can buy plastic ones that work just as well.
  4. Place the empanaditas on baking trays lined with baking paper.
  5. Brush with the beaten egg.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  7. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.

For relish:

  1. Combine onion, chilli, tomato, garlic, coriander and lime in a bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Mash the avocado until relatively smooth and then add to the onion mixture.
    As I am sure you are all aware, avocado discolours with exposure to air so it is best mashed close to serving.  I usually have everything else ready and then, at the last-minute, mash the avocado and add it to the onion mixture.
  3. Add salt, to taste.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing down firmly over the surface of the relish until ready to serve.

Serve the empanaditas warm, or at room temperature, with the relish for dipping.

2 thoughts on “Spicy Pork Empanaditas with Chunky Avocado Relish

  1. I love that you have made the pastry. Your empanadas look fantastic. Maybe the warm water activates the gluten more than cold water?. It also only has a smallish amount of butter compared to a shortcrust pastry. Fat makes the pastry “short” by cutting the strands of gluten with fat. Maybe only a little fat and warm water makes the pastry not too short and crumbly and builds up the gluten a bit???. It is also not chilled after making (which keeps the pastry short and the fat between the strands). Resting relaxes the dough a bit so that the gluten may be activated but it wont be too tough as it has relaxed a bit . My theory anyway… and it may just be a theory.
    Back to you

    • Hi Tania. The recipe is certainly different to the average pastry recipe but, to be honest, didn’t taste that different to shortcrust pastry so maybe you are right.

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