Ham and Cheese Empanadas / JillHough.com

Cooking the Books: Empanadas

What’s not to like about empanadas?

They’re warm and comforting.

They feature pastry—always a good thing—encasing fillings both savory and sweet. It’s like each one has a surprise inside. And yet, because the package is so special, the filling is almost a cherry on top.

I’ve had empanadas on the brain because I’ve had “Empanadas” in my kitchen. Specifically, “Empanadas: The Hand-Held Pies of Latin America” by Sandra Gutierrez (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2015). The book is almost as much fun to read as it is to cook from.

Empanadas cookbook / JillHough.com

As you might already know, I only write about cookbooks by people I know and love. So, full disclosure—I know and love Sandra and it’s highly unlikely I would have anything less than stellar thoughts about anything she’s involved with.

Besides being one of the nicest, friendliest people on Earth, Sandra is an expert in Latin American cuisine. Which impresses me because I’m a lover of Latin American cuisine. Her previous books include “The New Southern-Latino Table” and “Latin American Street Food,” and she has yet-another book coming out next month—”Beans and Field Peas,” part of the Savor the South collection. On top of that, she’s published over one thousand articles—literally, over a thousand—including work for USA Today, The Huffington Post, and Relish. And she’s interviewed luminaries including Emeril Lagasse, Sara Moulton, Alton Brown, and Steven Raichlen.

All of which is to say that Sandra, my friends, is no slouch.

True to form, “Empanadas” is jam-packed with recipes and tips for making the perfect empanada for any occasion, including a section with different doughs, info about folding different empanada shapes, and even a history of empanadas. Recipes include over 60 combinations of dough and fillings, sweet and savory, hailing from Chile to Mexico and almost everywhere in between.

On Sandra’s recommendation, I started with Classic Ham and Cheese Pockets (pictured). As promised, they were comfortingly warm and cozy, a familiar flavor combination packed in a meltingly tender and flaky pastry.


Ham and Cheese Empanadas / JillHough.comOther recipes that caught my eye include Spicy Potato and Peanut Empanadas from Columbia, Roquefort and Walnut Mini Pies from Argentina and Chile, Chorizo and Potato Pies with Tomatillo Salsa from Mexico, Green Tomatillo Chicken Stew Empanadas from Guatemala, Banana Pastries Coated with Sugar and Cinnamon from Brazil, and Guava and Cream Cheese Pastries, also from Brazil.

(Sandra, you had me at “guava.”)

“Empanadas” is a thoroughly written and researched book full of thoroughly delicious recipes from a thoroughly charming author.

What’s not to like?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Ham and Cheese Empanadas / JillHough.com

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