Chicken Chorizo Empanadas

~from Savoring Time in the Kitchen

Makes 12 Empanadas

Dough:

Note: You may also use a box of pre-made refrigerated pie crust purchased from your grocer. 

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar or plain vodka

Place sifted flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut in the cold butter with a pastry blender (or your fingers) until it resembles coarse the mixture resembles small, pea-size lumps.

With a fork whisk the egg, water, and vinegar or vodka together in a small bowl. Add this to the flour mixture, stirring with the fork just until incorporated.

Turn out dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press together. Gently kneed with heel of your hand two or three times to bring dough together. Flatten dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap or zipper bag. Chill at least 1 hour.

Dough can be made a day ahead.

When ready to made empanadas, roll out dough into an 18-inch rectangle.  Using a 3" round cutter, cut 12 discs from the dough.  Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, using parchment paper to cover and separate discs.

Filling:

1 tablespoon grape seed, corn or other neutral flavored oil
1/2 white onion, finely diced – about 1 cup
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced - about 1/2 cup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Bay Leaf
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lb. chicken chorizo, or pork, if preferred
12 ounces of grated Monterrey Jack or Mexican Blend cheese
4 ounces of crumbled queso fresco cheese

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Remove the chorizo from the casings and drop into the pan and separate with a wooden spoon while sauteing until cooked through and crumbled, about 10 minutes.  Remove the cooked chorizo from the pan with a slotted spoon as set aside.  Add the diced onion and red pepper and cook until they are soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, bay leaf, oregano and salt and stir to combine.  Add in the cooked chorizo sausage and stir together.  Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are blended.  Remove from heat and cool then remove bay leaf. 

This mixture can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to assemble empanadas.

Mix the grated Monterrey Jack or Mexican Blend cheese with the crumbled queso fresco. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Can be made a day ahead.

Avocado Sauce:

3 ripe avocados
4 limes, juiced – a little over ½ cup of juice
1 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and white veins removed
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a blender; it helps the blending process if the avocados are in small chunks and the cilantro is lightly chopped. I also recommend crushing the garlic before putting it in the blender to ensure no one gets a surprise large piece of garlic.
Blend until you have a smooth sauce. Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

Can be made a day ahead.

Assembly:
Here is a useful video on how to fill and fold empanadas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9-rEOS3D80

Roll out dough as indicated in dough recipe above.

Preheat oven to 400F.

To assemble the empanadas, hold one disc in your left hand (if you are right-handed). Brush outer edge on the upper half of disc with plain water. Place a spoonful of the cheese mixture in the center of the disc and then top with a spoonful of the chorizo mixture. Fold the top and bottom edge of the gently and seal edges with your fingers. Twist and fold the edges with your fingers or use a fork to press down on the edges as you would a pie crust.

Chill the empanadas for at least an hour to help them prevent leaks.

When ready to bake, brush the empanadas with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve the empanadas with avocado sauce.

Adapted from Here, Here and Here 
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