Thai Chicken Empanadas

Menu Part: 
Appetizer
Cuisine Type: 
Latin
Serves: 
About 5 dozen empanadas

Fusing the flavors of two on-trend cuisines is one way to attract adventurous palates. Although empanadas originated in Latin America and rely on ingredients from that part of the world, Zengo Chef-owner Richard Sandoval gives them a Thai accent with the sweet chili sauce known as mae ploy. A few spoonfuls of mango chutney complete the plate.

Ingredients

Diced meat from 1 roast chicken (about 5 cups, or 2 lb. diced meat)
2 poblano chilies
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 cups finely diced onions
1 bunch cilantro, minced
3/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce (mae ploy)
4 lb. puff pastry
12 oz. Oaxaca cheese, shredded
All-purpose flour, for dusting
3 qt. frying oil 

Steps

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub chilies with 2 tsp. oil, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap chilies in foil and roast in oven until softened, about 30 min., checking every 10 min.

2. Remove from oven and set foil-wrapped chilies aside until cool enough to handle. Peel and seed chilies; cut into a small dice.

3. Heat a large sauté pan over med.-high heat. Add 2 tsp. oil and sauté onions until translucent, stirring frequently, about 8 min. Remove from heat.

4. Assemble filling: In a large bowl, combine diced chicken, diced poblanos, onions, 1½ tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, cilantro, Thai sweet chili sauce and Oaxaca cheese. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. (You should have a generous 6 cups filling.) Cover and refrigerate filling until chilled, at least 1 hr. or overnight.

5. Roll out puff pastry 1 sheet at a time on a lightly floured board. Cut out rounds using a 3½-in. biscuit cutter. (You should get 16 to 18 rounds from each pound of puff pastry.)

6. Fill each round with about 1½ tbsp. chilled chicken filling. To fold the empanada, place the round in your hand. With the fingers of your other hand, press the filling down as you are clamping the pastry into a taco or moon shape. (It may seem as if there is too much filling at first, but dough will stretch as you press filling down.) Seal the empanada by pressing edges with fingers; crimp with fork to seal completely. Refrigerate empanadas until ready to fry.

7. Heat frying oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. To order, fry empanadas three at a time until golden-brown, about 3 min. Drain on rack or paper towel-lined baking sheet. Serve immediately.

Recipe by Zengo Chef-owner Richard Sandoval, Santa Monica, Calif.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

Ideas and Innovation
dress code geeks

Team uniforms are a way we encourage fun. I tell the mangers that every person on your team needs to look like a member of your team, but they can decide together what they want to wear. When the students see a cafeteria person that is matching and having fun with their outfits, they relate to those people better. We don’t want them to look stiff and stuffy.

Menu Development
meatloaf slices plate

“This is the best meatloaf I’ve ever had,” a diner at Alcatel-Lucent telecommunications in Naperville, Ill., once told chef Iraj Fernando. The dish was rooted in a tried-and-true source—the “Betty Crocker Cookbook.”

“I just seasoned the breadcrumbs differently, used fresh parsley and beat the eggs to make them frothier,” says Fernando, executive chef and manager for Southern Foodservice Management.

Consumer interest is up for classic and comforting meat dishes like meatballs (16%), beef pot pie (26%) and meatloaf (12%) for dinner now compared to two years ago, shows...

Ideas and Innovation
oxford school district cafeteria

We have spent considerable money making cafeterias cool again. New paint jobs, crazy color patterns, custom graphics and changes in lighting schemes have made some of our cafes popular gathering places. We’ve also experimented with videos, cable TV programs and music. We involved a number of student groups and student input in improving the atmosphere, especially in our high school and middle school cafeterias.

FSD Resources