Empanadas de Humita
E & I ate our way through Argentina a couple months ago, and even with the country's amazing beef and choripán, I still have an insatiable craving for empanadas, the hot pockets of South America.
I'm not alone. The iconic street snack is literally sold on every block, from street carts to high end restaurants, and they are so popular you can have them delivered until 2am in the morning. Empanaderías offer so many flavours that each has a different repulque, or fold, so that they can be easily identified for serving.
Not all empanadas are created equal. The Argentine version is generally baked and has savoury fillings; Empanada salteñas from the north is filled with potatoes, boiled eggs and scallion; Empanada cordobesas from Cordoba tends to be sweeter with the addition of sugar, raisins and tomatoes; Empanada mendocina from the wine region uses a dough enriched with milk for a tender crust; Empanada patigonico is filled with seafood or lamb, both typical ingredients of the region.
There are probably as many empanada recipes out there than there are Argentinian grandmothers. And although I don't have an empanada-churning granny, I've had my fair share of the steamy hand pies. My favourite is the empanada de humita, or choclo, which is filled with a gooey and creamy corn filling. Serve as a finger food with a glass of ice cold chardonnay, or pack on your next hiking adventure, or reheat after a night of partying. These addictive morsels will definitely hit the spot.
For the dough:
1-¼ cups (135g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoons (5g) of salt
1/2 stick (56g) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 large egg, cold
1/6 cup (39g) ice water
1/2 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
For the humita filling:
2 ears of corn
1/2 tablespoon (14g) butter
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
For the bechamel:
1 tablespoons (14g) flour
1/2 cup (120mL) whole milk
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 egg, lightly whisked
pinch of salt
- Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until the it becomes the size of walnuts.
- Whisk together the egg, water and vinegar in another bowl. Stir wet ingredients into the dry mixture until just incorporated.
- Invert the dough onto a floured surface. Knead the dough gently a few times and roll into a fat log. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Shell half of the corn and grate the rest.
- Place a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onions. Toss the onions around until they are well-coated. Sprinkle over the salt and scallions, and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes.
- Add all the corn and sprinkle over flour. Mix around and pour in the milk. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. When the mixture thickens, add the paprika and stir in the mozzarella.
- Transfer the filling to a bowl and cool slightly.
- To assemble the empanadas, divide the dough into twelve equal pieces. Roll one piece into a thin disc around 2-3 mm, covering the rest with a towel.
- Take a spoonful of the mixture on the center of each empanada disc, and brush the edges with the egg wash.
- Seal the empanadas with your choice of repulque.
- Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg wash. Store in the refrigerator for up to two days, or in the freezer for later use.
- When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400°F/205°C and bake empanadas for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden.