Creamy Chorizo, Chicken, and Cotija Empanadas


Random cookout evenings with friends are the best way to kick off a weekend, I’m very sure. We got to spend Friday evening in denial of the tornado warning storm coverage all over the news with an evening of fresh mojitos, home-made guacamole and salsa, and grill treats galore. We didn’t actually discuss a theme (that I’m aware of), but everyone seemed to tacitly agree on a south-of-the-border theme. 

My contribution was a plate of empanadas filled with pork chorizo, chicken, and chimichurri-esque flavors from cilantro and red wine vinegar. The empanadas were slightly creamy, thanks to a little bit of cream cheese and a lot of Cotija, and were also a bit smoky and hot due to a tin of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce I added. I actually didn’t add in any heat to the skillet; the chipotle peppers and chorizo had seasoning enough to go around. To save time, I used pie crust from the grocery store and quartered for the individual empanadas, topped with a brush of egg wash. Right now, fiance and I are about to dig in to the leftovers, heated with eggs and served like breakfast tacos. 

Creamy Chorizo, Chicken, and Cotija Empanadas
Makes 8 large empanadas and plenty of leftover filling

You will need:
  • 1/4 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 ounces pork chorizo
  • 7 ounce can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow corn kernals
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups Cotija
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 prepared pie crusts
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp. cream, half-and-half, or milk

Method:
  • Saute diced onions and chorizo in olive oil for about five minutes on medium heat, to give the chorizo a head start on cooking. 
  • Stir in chipotle peppers, chicken, and corn kernals and let cook for another five more minutes. 
  • Once you are confident that the chorizo is cooked through (about ten-twelve minutes total), add in the cream cheese, cotija, and red wine vinegar. Stir together until fully incorporated. 
  • Remove from heat and add chopped fresh cilantro. Set aside and let your dog watch jealously. 

  • Next, preheat the oven to 350 and prepare the empanada crust. 
  • For the crust, I cut refrigerated, ready-made pie crust dough into quarters (I used two crusts, for a total of eight empanadas). 
  • Add a heaping tablespoon to the middle of each empanada and flatten. 

  • Pull one side of the crust over to the other and seal shut with a fork, crimping along the edges to seal. 
  • Make an egg wash by whisking together the egg yolk and cream or milk. Brush the wash lightly over the top of each empanada. This will make the empanada crusts golden and shiny. 
  • Arrange on a baking sheet (spray first with nonstick) and bake for twelve minutes or until golden brown. 
  • Serve nice and warm. Leftovers are great with eggs as a breakfast burrito or with a bit of extra cheese as a quesadilla. 

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