Empanadas de San Antonino (Griddled Crispy Empanadas Stuffed with Yellow Mole and Chicken) from Oaxaca by Bricia Lopez and the family behind LA's Guelaguetza with Javier Cabral.
Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Bricia Lopez and the family behind LA’s Guelaguetza with Javier Cabral.
Our cookbook of the week is Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Bricia Lopez and the family behind LA’s Guelaguetza with Javier Cabral. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with one of its authors.
Stuffed with a heady yellow mole, the cooking process sets these empanadas apart. Since the sauce is cooked slowly inside of the tortilla, Bricia Lopez explains, it needs more time in the comal (or cast-iron skillet) than a quesadilla would, for example.
“All of that fat and juice from the mole oozes out of the masa a little bit, and it gets crispy from the outside as it gets cooked on the inside. It has this burst of flavour — a little bit of herbaceousness,” says Lopez. “It’s another of my favourite (recipes), and I always like to finish it with a little bit of citrus and some pickled jalapeños as well.”
EMPANADAS DE SAN ANTONINO
Griddled Crispy Empanadas Stuffed with Yellow Mole and Chicken
For the mole amarillo filling:
2 lb (910 g) guajillo chilies, stems and seeds removed
3 1/4 cups (350 g) roughly chopped onions
6 cloves garlic (45 g), peeled
1/2 tsp (2 mL) cumin seeds
10 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
1/2-inch (2.5 cm) cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 1/2 tbsp (22 mL) dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme
1 lb (455 g) fresh masa (see note)
1/2 lb (227 g) lard, melted
2 tsp (10 mL) sea salt
1 lb (455 g) chicken breast, cooked and shredded
20 sprigs of fresh cilantro
For the empanadas:
2 1/4 lb (1 kg) fresh masa (see note)
For the garnishes:
Chopped serranos chilies
Make the filling: In a 2-quart (2 L) saucepan over medium-high heat, bring 2 cups (480 mL) of water to a boil. Turn off the heat add the chilies. Cover and let sit in the hot water for 30 minutes or until the chilies have softened.
Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add the chopped onions and turn once or twice so the onions are cooked and lightly charred, about 12 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
Repeat with the garlic until the garlic is roasted and slightly charred as well. Remove and set aside.
Lastly, in batches, bring down the heat to low and toast the cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaves and thyme in the skillet until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Transfer the toasted spices to a molcajete or spice grinder and grind until finely ground. Set aside.
When the chilies have softened, remove them from the soaking water and add them to a blender with 3 cups (720 mL) of water, along with the onions and garlic. Blend until smooth and set
In batches, add half of the chili mixture with half of the masa to the blender and blend until smooth to make a slurry. Empty out the blender and do the same with the other half of the masa and the chili mixture.
Place the lard in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is melted, add the masa-chili mixture and ground spices to the skillet. Stir well with a wooden spatula to combine. Season to taste, about 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt.
Make the empanadas: To assemble and cook the empanadas, make balls of masa that are about 3/4 cup (about 125 g) each. With a tortilla press, press down to make a round tortilla.
As each tortilla is pressed and ready, in a comal or nonstick griddle over medium heat, carefully place the tortilla on the grill and cook one side. Turn over after 1 minute. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of yellow mole, a fat pinch of shredded chicken and a sprig of cilantro.
Fold over like a quesadilla and cook on the edges of the comal where it’s not as hot. The mole will cook inside the empanada and requires a longer cooking time on top of the comal than a traditional quesadilla. The tortilla will turn a reddish colour after all of the filling’s juices have expanded inside the masa. Continue until all the masa, chicken and mole are gone.
Cook until the masa is fully cooked, about 15 minutes in total, about 5 minutes on each side. The outside crust should be crispy and the interior creamy.
Serve hot, with lime, pickled onions, chopped jalapeños and serranos.
Makes: 16 empanadas
Note: Find fresh masa at a Mexican grocery store, or make your own (Lopez details the process in the book).
Excerpted from Oaxaca: Home Cooking from the Heart of Mexico by Bricia Lopez and the family behind LA’s Guelaguetza with Javier Cabral. Copyright © 2019 Bricia Lopez. Published by Abrams, an imprint of ABRAMS. Photographs copyright © 2019 Quentin Bacon. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019