I combined two different recipes from Maria Baez Kijac’s, The South American Table" to make my own filling which ended up being truly outrageous. The original dough recipe used fresh Yuca combined with flour and butter. I found that sweet potatoes can be used as a substitute and since I had those handy and thought the color would be prettier (Yuca is white like a potato) I decide to go for it. Traditionally the filling would be sauteed in dende (palm) oil which I understand imparts a flavor and color that I couldn't achieve with olive oil but that's what I had available. These empanadas turned out beautiful AND delicious despite the fact that I really should have rolled the dough thinner. I served these straight up but when I make these again I think I would like some diced papaya or mango as an accompaniment. I wouldn't want to make a dip or anything for them because in their unadorned state you could really taste all of the individual ingredients shining through. If you'd like another wonderful empanada recipe I made and posted Crab and Goat Cheese Empanadas with Mango Chutney quite a while ago but that recipe is a winner too! Enjoy!
Recipe: Empadinhas de Camarao (Shrimp Empanadas)
Adapted from The South American Table
by Maria Baez Kijac
“Empadas (pies), Pasteis (turnovers) are among the famous Brazilian appetizers called salgadinhos (salty things). Empadas are made in different sizes, with the small ones being called empadinhas. These pastries are filled with a myriad of different ingredients, they are addictively delicious and freeze very well. Make ahead or make extra to have on hand for guests”.
8 oz. sweet potato, cooked
¾ cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour mixed with
2 teaspoons baking powder and
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ a small onion
3 cloves of garlic, mashed into a paste with:
½ teaspoon finely crumbled bay leaf and
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon green bell pepper
1 tablespoon red bell pepper
3 tablespoon cilantro or parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 thai green chilies or 1 small jalapeno, minced (optional)
8 oz. shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped fine
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
½ cup coconut milk
1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
For the Masa: In a large bowl mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher (a food processor will make them gummy). Mix in the butter and the flour mixture, kneading gently to get a smooth dough adding a little more flour if it gets sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
For the Relleno: Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over low heat. Add the onion, garlic paste, bell and hot peppers, cilantro and zest. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring a few times with a wooden spoon. Add the shrimp and lime juice and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle in the flour, mixing well. Add the coconut milk and cook, stirring, to obtain a creamy consistency and the flour is cooked. Remove from the heat and let cool.
To Assemble: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 3" Circles. Place about 1 level tablespoon of filling in the center of each circle, fold over into a cresent shape and press the edges together with your fingers to seal. Brush with the egg mixture and bake in the upper third of the oven until golden, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.