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Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Empanadas are absolute works of art. It’s true that I feel this way about all filled carb pockets, but that doesn’t diminish the savory perfection of the empanada. Even better, I’m happy to report that all of the empanada’s mouthwateringly meaty, salty, and crunchy characteristics convert seamlessly into chip and dip form, and it’s a stunner.

The only reason my jaw didn’t drop to the floor after one bite of this deconstructed empanada is because there was food in it, and that would have been gross. The filling was juicy, and packed with umami, and the pastry chip was uniformly crunchy (because it was cooked separately from the moist filling). Transforming the empanada into a shareable, informal snack dip is simple, and has little to no learning curve. The components remain the same, a filling and a shell, but there’s no need for skillful shaping. I know stuffing empanadas is easy for some, but overfilling a dumpling has some serious risks. With this preparation there’s no careful filling of the pastry, and no folding or crimping involved. Cutting all that out shortens the overall preparation time significantly, and results in you snacking on empanada goodness much faster.

Cook the empanada filling on the stove top. Use any recipe that you like–beef, chicken, chorizo and potato– they all will work beautifully. For the filling, I used this recipe for beef empanadas and added some sliced olives because I like their salty punch. For the dough, you can use flour shells or the ones made with a corn masa. My neighborhood grocery store sells excellent pre-cut frozen empanada dough, so I bought those, but you can choose to make your own from scratch. Cook the filling as directed on the stove top and set it aside in a bowl. The shells can either be deep fried, pan fried, or baked depending on your preference. Your job is to get them cooked and crispy by whatever means your tastebuds deem necessary. I brushed my empanada shells with oil on both sides, put them on a parchment lined sheet tray, and baked them in a 400°F oven for 10 minutes. They bubbled, crisped, and browned nicely. I cooled them for about five minutes before serving them alongside the bowl of filling.

I’m the sort of person who gets a special kind of destructive pleasure from tearing pieces of baguette with my hands, so I left the shells in rounds that can be shattered into bite-sized pieces by the eager eater. For clean edged, individual chips, cut them before cooking. For the oven method, brush the pastry with oil on both sides, and slice them with a sharp knife into quarters, or straight across into strips. Pile your magnificent, crispy empanada chips next to the heaping bowl of filling and scoop away.

#Empanada #Chips #Dip

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