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Mar 7, 2009 07:18 PM

Calling all fried empanada experts....

I am facing a conundrum.
My fried empanadas are constantly bursting and loosing all or a good part of their mozarella cheese filling.

I have tried replacing the red onions in the filling for scallions, no change in the outcome. I also tried leaving the dough a bit thicker to see if that would help, no difference.

So now I am thinking that the next step is to experiment with a different cheese.
I need a cheese that has a lower concentration of water than mozarella but somehow still delivers the same kind of flavor.

Any ideas as to what would be a good cheese choice for fried empanadas?


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  1. Jack cheese works fine. Are you venting your Empanada's. I have found that no matter how I try to adjust the filling, the expansion of the air inside the pastry shell, once sealed, has to expand to someplace and the weakest point is the previously sealed edge. So I but a small vent at the highest point in the sealed crust prior to baking. That eliminates the leakage of filling for me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: todao

      thanks for your suggestion, when you say jack cheese do you mean cheddar?
      I can't leave a vent on the dough because the cheese will ooze out of there durig the frying process.

      1. re: maria_nyc

        Sorry, I didn't realize you were deep frying them. I bake my Epanadas when I use cheese in the filling. I only deep fry Empanadas that are meat filled; I wouldn't try cheese in a deep fried Empanada because there would be no way (as far as I know) to guarantee the cheese would not escape the pastry casing.

    2. Have you tried using less filling? I usually make mine with meat, not dairy, but mine burst when I overfill them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: TampaAurora

        I have tried using less filling with no improvement.
        The only thing that seemed to help a little was when I changed the dough preparation process and used cold water instead of hot water. Unfortunately, it was only a slight improvement, not enough.

        1. re: maria_nyc

          when you flatten out the dough right before you stuff make sure that the dough is not to thin but not way to thick

      2. I'm curious. I've never had a fried empanada with cheese inside. Can you share your recipe; and where do people prepare and eat such empanadas. None of the fried empanadas here in Colombia have cheese inside.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          The dough recipe is very simple all purpose flour, butter, salt, sugar, 1 egg, and water.

          I use the measurements "al ojo" basically the dough preparation is the same that you would follow to do a pie crust . I begin by mixing the flour with the sugar and salt, then add the butter and work it into the flour mix until the flour looks granular. Then I add one whole egg, and once the egg is mixed I start adding small amounts of cold water.

          The dough is ready when the flour mix comes clean off your hands and bowl, and the dough fills soft and very slightly damp to the touch. At that point I let the covered dough rest for perhaps 1/2 hour in the refrigerator.

          The filling consist of diced cheese (very small) and scallion.
          You take the dough out of the refrigerator separate into small balls.
          Each ball you roll into a biggish circle, then you put the filling in the middle and fold half of the dought over the first half, so you end up with a semi-circle.

          At this point you close the edges. I use the traditional method which consists of twisting and pulling the thin-out edge so that it forms a continuous curl all around.

          Then you let it rest for a bit before frying in hot corn oil.
          Traditionally you eat them for breakfast or for afternoon break with black coffee.
          (you can also serve them as a light dinner)

          1. re: maria_nyc

            Great. Thank you. Where do people eat these traditionally?

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              The recipe above is for Ecuadorian empanadas. I know they have fried empanadas in Chile as well, but they use a meat filling.

        2. It's not water that's causing the problem. In my experience, when fried empanadas burst it's because of trapped air. Try (gently) squeezing the filling into a ball before assembling and press out any air pockets before sealing the edges. I make empanadas using masa arepa dough which has no strength at all, and they rarely burst. And I don't vent them. Vents just let oil get into the empanada.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Zeldog

            Hmmm that's interesting...because I have been leaving space all around the filling to make sure there's room for the cheese filling to expand.

            I'll make sure there is as little air as possible around the filing when I close the edges next time. I'll post back the results.

            Thanks for the suggestion.

            1. re: maria_nyc

              The filling will hardly expand at all; it just melts. What's expanding is the air. Getting rid of as much of that as you can ought to do it. The post below about stretchy dough offers a further solution: if your dough were stretchy instead of the pastry type you're making (as also in the case of some cheese boereg recipes) it would allow some expansion. But then it wouldn't be authentic to the kind you're making.

              1. re: Will Owen

                OK so I finally got a chance to make empanadas today and guess what...your advise worked! Not one empanada burst open.
                I also lower the oil temperature from high to medium hight, the results were perfection.
                By the way for anyone who wants to try the recipe I measured things out so it's easier to reproduce.
                1 1/4 cups of flour
                1 tablespoon sugar
                1 teaspoon salt
                3 tablespoon of salted butter
                1 whole egg
                1/4 cup of cold water
                1 cup of mozarella cheese
                3 scallion steams
                Mix 1 cup of flour, add the sugar and salt (you should adapt these to your taste). Add the butter, mix well. Next add the egg. Now add the water little by little. Add this point use the rest of the flour until the dough has a springy, slight wet texture. Cover with a wet napkin or paper towel and let it rest in the refrigerator.
                Chop the cheese and the scallion very small.
                After the dough has rested in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour divide the dough in about 9 balls. Use a rolling pin to extend each dough ball into a 5 inch diameter circle. Put 2 or 3 teaspoons of filling in the middle. Fold in half, making sure you don't leave any air pockets around filling. Press ends together. You can do a traditional curly edge or use a fork to press the ends together. Fry in hot corn oil until the empanada is gold in color. Serve with black coffee. Enjoy.

          2. So reading this definitely took me back to standing in frigid Andean markets in Ecuador as little old ladies made us each our fried cheese empanadas for breakfast at 5 am or whatever it was. They are TERRIFIC, and I recommend them highly to anyone traveling through the area, or to make them if maria can nail down the technique!

            So here is what I'm remembering from eating these and watching them get made. I remember them not leaving any space--the dough is basically stretched around the cheese. Which brings me to my next though--I think the dough was extremely stretchy and then when it fries up it bubbles and what not. I'll see if I can find a picture when I'm home tonight, that might give some insight.

            Hope that helps!