Potato & Vegan Chorizo Empanadas

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Ah weekends! A time where I can shop at my local farmer’s market, run needed errands, spend quality time with my little ones, and languish in my kitchen creating what I’d like to call my weekend meals.  Meals that require and allow you to indulge…to go one step further.  These Potato & Vegan Chorizo Empanadas do just that.  Now, this recipe does require a bit of preparation, so to make your life easier, prepare the Homemade Vegan Chorizo a day ahead.  So, what are Empanadas?  They are a Latin and South American pastry, often filled with meat, cheese, seafood or vegetables.  As a lover of food stuffed in pastry (Jamaican patties, pierogies, etc), these are high up on my list of go to snacks for myself or a get together.   

Once I made the Vegan Chorizo,  I wanted to go a step further and add some traditional ingredients.  I found Tyler Florence’s recipe for Potato and Chorizo Empanadas and added additional spices along with raisins and pimiento-stuffed green olives.   The end result was a tender crust combined with the smokiness of the spices and a delicate sweetness of the raisins.

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Potato + Vegan Chorizo Empanadas//makes 20 empanadas
Loosely adapted from Tyler Florence via Food Network

empanada filling
3 to 4 waxy red or white potatoes (about 1/2 pound), peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1-lb. Homemade Vegan Chorizo (recipe below)
1 Spanish onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 large pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 recipe empanada dough, recipe follows

empanada dough
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted vegan butter, melted and cooled
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, lightly brushed atop of empanada dough
Butter, for greasing the pans

chimichurri sauce
1 ¼ cups lightly-packed packed parsley leaves
½ cup cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
6 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until finely chopped, about 1 minute.  Serve with the empanadas.

Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water; add the salt and bring to a boil, uncovered. Simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, place a large skillet over medium flame. Add the vegan chorizo, onion and garlic; season with the cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.

Drain the potatoes and fold them into the pan, using a wooden spoon, break up the potatoes into nickel-size pieces. Add the olives and raisins and toss everything together; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow the filling to cool before filling the empanadas.

For the empanada dough, in a large bowl, sift together the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Gradually add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water, working it in with your hands to incorporate; the dough should be easy to handle and not sticky. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

Lightly flour your rolling pin and counter. Divide the dough in 1/2 so it will be easier to work with and roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 10 circles of dough; repeat with the other 1/2. 

Spoon 2 generous tablespoons of filling into the center of each pastry circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with coconut oil and then fold the dough over in 1/2 to enclose the filling and form a semi-circle. Tightly seal the edges by crimping with the tines of a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes before baking. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the empanadas on a buttered baking sheet and brush the tops with the coconut oil. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the top of the empanadas for steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.

Vegan Chorizo//makes 1 lb.
Adapted from Dora’s Table

1 block tofu, extra firm, 12 oz.
½ lb. mushrooms, finely chopped
6 guajillo chiles, dried, seeded
2 ancho chiles, dried, seeded
4 chile de arbol, dried
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. oregano, dried
½ tsp. cumin, ground
2 cloves, whole
1 tbsp. paprika, ground
½ tsp. coriander, ground
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil, optional

Remove tofu from package and place in between two small plates. Place a can on top of the plates and leave like this for 30 min.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and discard them. Drop the chiles into the boiling water. Turn heat down to the lowest setting and let the chiles sit in the water for 10 min.

Remove the chiles from the water and place in blender. Reserve ½ cup of the chile soaking liquid.

Add the garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, paprika, coriander, apple cider vinegar, and ¼ cup of soaking liquid to the blender and process until smooth. If necessary, add the remaining ¼ cup of the soaking liquid to get things moving in the blender.

Season the chile mixture with salt and pepper and pass through a fine strainer. Set aside.

Drain the water from the tofu and crumble with your hands into a large bowl. Pour half of the pureed chile mixture into the bowl with the tofu and stir to combine. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan to high heat and add 1 tbsp. of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the finely chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 6-7 min.

Lower heat to medium-low and pour in the remaining half of the chile mixture. Stir and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to absorb the chile mixture. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl.

Heat a non-stick sauté pan set to medium heat, add 1 tbsp. of oil. Add the tofu mixture and continue to cook until the liquid begins to evaporate and tofu becomes crispy, 7-8 minutes. You can make the tofu as crispy as you like. (Be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the tofu will never get crispy.)

Pour cooked tofu mixture into the bowl with the mushrooms and mix well to combine. Adjust seasoning.

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