Empanadas are savory pastries originating from the Galicia region of Spain.
They are traditionally filled with onions, green or red pepper, and some type of meat or fish.
In this version, onions and red pepper are cooked together with mushrooms to make completely vegetarian empanadas.
Sherry, another Spanish specialty, is added to give the mushrooms depth.
A dash of liquid smoke adds an intriguing flavor that will keep you and your friends coming back for more.
A little bit goes a long way, however, so be cautious.
The crust of these empanadas is made with a special dough that falls somewhere between a pastry dough and a yeasted bread dough.
It is a very soft dough making it a bit difficult to work with, especially when it comes to forming the empanadas.
Mine usually come out a bit lopsided but I prefer to think of them as having a very homemade, rustic look!
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for the dough...
1 package active dry yeast
a good pinch of sugar
1/2 cup warm water
2-1/4 cups of flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons softened butter
for the filling...
3 tablespoons butter (or a combination of 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
12 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons cream sherry
dash of liquid smoke
salt and pepper
1/4 cup packed italian parsley, minced
an egg wash made by beating one egg with 1 tablespoon water
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and set aside for about 10 minutes.
The yeast should become bubbly and foamy.
If it does not, the yeast you are using is no longer active.
Try again using a new batch of yeast.
Mix 2-1/4 cups of the flour and the salt together in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
Crack the eggs into the well and then add the yeast mixture and softened butter.
Mix all of the ingredients together with a wooden spoon to form a soft, smooth dough.
Dust the dough with flour, gather it up into a ball and place in a clean bowl.
Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
While the dough is rising, make the filling.
In a large, heavy skillet heat the butter over medium-low heat.
Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 5 minutes).
Stir in the mushrooms and bell pepper and cook until the liquid from the mushrooms is mostly evaporated and the mixture is starting to brown (about 8 minutes).
Turn the heat up to medium and add the sherry, liquid smoke, and salt and pepper to taste.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is evaporated (if the liquid doesn't seem to be evaporating after about 5 minutes, turn the heat up a bit and continue cooking.)
Stir in the parsley and let the mixture cool uncovered in a large bowl.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
When the dough is done rising, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured surface.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces.
Using flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, lightly pat each piece out into a 4 to 5 inch circle.
You can actually use a rolling pin to do this if you prefer but the I find that the dough is soft enough that it is easier and faster to just make the circles by hand.
Place a generous spoonful of the filling in the bottom half of each circle (try to divide the filling evenly between each of the circles.)
Fold the top half of each circle over the filling until it touches the other side so you end up a with a half-moon shape.
Crimp the edges with a fork to seal them together and then transfer the empanadas to baking sheets.
Poke each empanada with a fork or knife several times to create airholes that will allow the steam to escape during baking.
Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash.
Put the empanadas in the middle of the oven and bake until golden, 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 16 empanadas
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It is very important to make the mushroom filling as dry as possible.
If it is too wet, the pastry may not cook properly on the inside.
If the filling seems too wet, turn up the heat and cook for a bit longer until the rest of the liquid evaporates.
Also, always be sure to cut slits in the top of the empanadas as this will allow any excess liquid to evaporate during baking.
This empanada dough is extremely soft making it somewhat difficult to work with.
Be sure to use enough flour to keep the dough from sticking but try to avoid incorporating much extra flour into the dough which will make the empanadas dry.
To form the circles of dough, use floured hands and a light, quick patting action and you should have no problems.