Wonton Empanadas Carnitas – Recipe

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Well that’s a mouthful.

Aside from those into body building, the hardest thing in making empanadas (see previous post also) is making the dough.  If you’re a body builder, kneading the dough serves a double purpose for both making the dough and building up the wrist and hand muscles.  For the rest of us,  if we didn’t have to knead the dough, we might be more inclined to try empanadas.  In countries where empanadas are made and eaten as an everyday part of life, pre-made dough can be found in the local markets.  Here, it might be a little more difficult to find empanadas dough.

But flour is flour, water is water and egg is egg, so can we find a substitute for making our own empanadas dough.  As you guessed, the answer is, yes.  Wonton (egg roll) wrappers are generally available in most supermarkets.  Even though you may never have used them, they’re available for making egg rolls, dumplings and a whole variety of appetizers that I’m sure we could find on the web.  And to the naked eye they look pretty much like the result of making empanadas dough.  That is, a thin sheet of dough in which we wrap the filling and then fry the whole contraption.  Sort of sounds like an egg roll when it’s described that way.  Well once again we’ve come to the realization that the world is a much smaller place than we thought it to be.

If you go to your supermarket looking for wonton wrappers, you’ll probably have a difficult time finding them.  If you look in the dough section, they won’t be there.  For some unknown reason they’re usually in the produce section.  To my knowledge wonton wrappers don’t grow out of the ground so I’m not sure how they ended up in produce.  Maybe they’re there to keep the tofu company?

The wonton wrappers I picked up were about 6 1/2 inches square and just about perfect for my improvised circle dough cutter (see previous post).  An added benefit was that the small left over pieces of dough from cutting the circle, fried up nicely into some wonton chips.  Bet you didn’t know that wonton chips even existed.  Neither did I until I threw them in the hot oil just to see what would happen.  A little salt on the hot chips later, and we had wonton chips to go with the empanadas.

Obviously the wonton wrappers worked well.  Otherwise I wouldn’t have the pictures below.  The only real difference compared to the home-made dough, was that the wonton wrappers were rolled a little thinner than I rolled my dough by hand.  So the empanadas were a little more fragile, but to the plus side, crisper.

So here goes.  This recipe used cooked pulled pork fried up with some onion, green peppers and spices to make a, what I have since found out to be incorrect, fajita mix (see wiki for the facts).  It worked pretty well.  A crisp shell and a spicy filling.  If you’re adverse to the spiciness, leave out the crushed red peppers.  And for the adventuresome, feel free to substitute your favorite hot ingredient for the crushed red pepper.

1/2 pound cooked pulled pork – approximate – cooked pulled pork recipe to come at some later time

1 medium onion – chopped in strips to match the green pepper below

1 green pepper – chopped in strips about 3 inches long

5 cloves of garlic – you may always use more, I cheated and added a tablespoon of minced garlic from a jar (see picture) since I was short on garlic

1/4 teaspoon ground oregano

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon dried crushed red peppers – or to your taste

dash of milled black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Fry the onion and green peppers in the olive oil until cooked but still crispy.  Add in the crushed red pepper.  Cook for about a minute to flavor the oil and distribute the heat to the vegetables.  Add the pulled pork.  Mix and cook to warm up the pork.  When everything is hot, add in the cumin.  Mix and cook for another two minutes to distribute the cumin flavor to the ingredients.  If the pork sucks up too much of the olive oil, add a little more oil to moisten the mixture.  But we want the final product to be on the dry side to help keep the wonton shell nice and crispy.  Remove from the heat.

Cut the square wonton wrappers with the circular form, or free hand with a knife.  Place a tablespoon or so of the pork filling on one half of the cut wonton wrapper (see picture below).  Wet the wonton wrapper edges around the filling with some water and your finger.  Fold over the other half of the wonton wrapper and seal the edges by pressing together with your finger.  Decorate the edge as in the previous post.  However, since the wonton wrapper is thinner, the decorative scallops don’t show up very well.

Once assembled, fry the empanadas in some hot oil.  It’s only going to take about 45 seconds to a minute on each side to make them nice and brown.   When the first side down is brown, turn over and fry the other side.  Be fast.  Remove from the oil when the second side is brown.  Drain on a rack or paper towels.  Be fast.

The basic ingredients.

A little too much filling for the wrapper.

The wrapper folded over the filling and edges sealed.

Frying up two.

The final product, with the bonus chips.

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