Pinoy Style Chicken Empanada

Too far in between, I know! But I am back to cooking now, so hopefully I'd be able to share more recipes in the near future.
I'm not quite sure but I think I may have already mentioned in my previous post that I'm more of a cook rather than a baker. I'm not so comfortable with the strict structure of baking, like those measurements, timings, and whatever else. So I just tended to stick with cooking and leave those "dough-related" activities with everybody else in the household. 
When we used to have a "mini" catering business more than two years ago, among our bestsellers are cassava cake, empanada and lumpia. The cassava was the specialty of the Expat Lola and she tends to  be proprietary with her recipe so I still don't know how to make that. LOL! With the lumpia and empanada I have about 50% participation. Because, I am only engaged in cooking the stuffing. The wrapping and dough preparation, the assistants are the experts. Specially with the empanada dough it used to be the previous nanny who make it. I didn't bother because she can do it perfectly well and ---- it's hard. But long story short, she's no longer with us and we're back to COOKING FOR MONEY!!!! LOL!
I wanted to include empanada again to our menu because it used to be such a hit. But there was this "dough" problem. So as always, I turned to my mentor Mr. Google and looked for the best looking photo of empanada accompanied with the simplest recipe which I can master. And then ---- tarraaaannn!!!!

Finally! We made it!!!!
There you have it ladies and gentlemen, the most perfect empanada in the whole wide world! Hahahaha!!! No, that was a lie. But I'm quite happy with how it turned out. No, that was an understatement. I'm ecstatic ---- and very proud. The dough was perfect for the perfect filling recipe I already have tucked under my sleeve. Naks! Kidding aside, this truly was an instant hit when I introduced it to the "market". That's about 20 persons, really. Our customers in our little enterprise of supplying snacks and lunches daily.

Anyways, so here's my take on the empanada that everyone loves.This recipe yields about 20 pieces.

Filling:
200 grams chicken breast, cooked
1 large potato, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 tbs raisins
1/4 cup green peas
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 pcs garlic, minced
3 tbs cooking oil
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tbs soy sauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce
salt, pepper and sugar to taste
hard boiled egg, sliced (optional)

How to:
1. Put pan over medium heat and add oil.
2. When hot, add the onion. Saute for 1-2 minutes then add the garlic. 
3. When the garlic is golden brown, add the chicken. Saute for 2-3 minutes. (Remember, the chicken had already been boiled/cooked)
4. Add tomato paste, soy sauce and tomato sauce. Saute for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper and sugar to suite your taste.
5. Add all the vegetables and the raisins. Cook until potatoes and carrots are soft to the bite.
6. Remove from pan, drain excess liquid and set aside.

Dough:
3 cups flour
3/4 cups fresh milk
120gms frozen butter, cubed
1 tbs baking powder
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp salt

How to:
1. In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients then add the frozen butter.
2. Fold in the solid butter pieces and work it out with the flour mixture using your hands. Add the milk.
3. Mix until dough is soft but firm and no longer sticking to the bowl or your hands. 
4. Form the dough into one big ball and wrap in plastic.
5. Put in the freezer for about 1-2 hours.

And then finally to make empanadas you'll need enough oil for deep frying.

1. Remove dough from freezer and thaw for about 15-30 minutes or until soft enough to roll.
2. Roll out the dough to about 2mm thick. 
3. Scoop about 2 tbs of filling put in the center top with a slice of hard boiled egg (if using). Fold the dough to form a semi-circle. Stick the edges together then cut out the excess leaving only about half cm. to seal.
4. Using a fork, tuck the edges to seal. Repeat. Yield is about 20 pieces.
5. Deep fry the empanadas. Make sure you don't crowd the pan so as not to drive down the temperature of the oil, so fry about 2-3 pieces only at a time.
6. The the dough turns light to golden brown, remove from pan. 
7. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Set aside to cool.
8. Serve for breakfast or snack. Enjoy!

Mommy tip: Remember, the filling is already cooked so no need to fry for too long. Remove from pan the moment the dough turns brown and crisp.
 
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Wow! Just thought this is amazing. 111,111 views as of now, Feb 24, 2014. 

I thank everyone who still keeps visiting this blog even if I don't really have new things to offer. I would really try harder this time. As I check the stats now, the top 10 viewed dishes are:

Ginataang Tambakol - 4,889 views 
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Paksiw na Pata - 2,821 views
Labanos Kilawin - 2,055 views 

So, if you have anything in your mind you'd like to learn how to prepare or cook, please do share. Let's learn together. Just like you, I am also learning as I go along. I believe good dishes are a product of a lot of hits and misses. So to be a good cook, let's not be afraid to try. My first dish which I learned when I was 10 was 3-step Adobo, taught by my Tatay. First chop all ingredients, dump them in the pan and cook. Done. It was good actually. But along the way, I started experimenting. Adobo sa Star, Adobong Dilaw, Spicy Adobo and even Adobo Fried Rice. Any and all kinds of Adobo, until finally I got tired of it. It's now my least favorite dish. LOL! 

Last night, as I was making Fish and Chips, which ended up as Fish Tempura, for our dinner. I suddenly realize that even the girls' perception of home cooked meals had now changed. They now are active participants in planning our menu. It was a funny thought that they now see our kitchen as they're personal restaurant where they just call in their orders and I would prepare it for them. Even before going to sleep, they enumerate the breakfasts, lunches and dinners they want me to prepare for the week. It looks like they think they have a personal chef at home! There were even times when they would ask for burgers or steaks or mashed potatoes but refuse to eat out. They wanted me to cook them at home instead. Life had just suddenly become harder! LOL! 

But I love it. I love when the fam loves the food that is served to them. I love when they finish up everything. I love when the Expat Daddy takes photos of the food before we devour them. I just so love food, cooking and everything that goes with it. In our home, meals are always a thing to look forward to. Specially weekend meals, they're such big events.

Some people suggest that I should put up a restaurant or make any of my cooking a business. And I pray, with God's grace, in time that could happen. I think the happiness I get now will be multiplied a hundred-fold. 

So to all you foodies out there, here's to all of us who loves food, cooking and eating!!!! 

See you in our next Kitchen Adventure!

Oh by the way, and since we're "talking blog", please check out my mommy blog too, 3 Mini Ladies and a Mommy. Let's share our mommy-hood experiences and some future planning and personal finance too! 

Boneless Lechon Belly a.k.a Lechon Cebu

Look how beautiful this baby is! We are definitely in Lechon heaven!
I have not been able to post any entries on this blog in the last months, that was sad, really. I really really wanted to keep this blog going. More so, to improve it. I just didn't know how to do it. I really think I need help to design this blog, plus the other "mommy" blog which I also wanted to keep active as an online diary for the girls. Unfortunately, the drive just wasn't there. But, now is a totally different case. I have just had a major major accomplishment in my cooking adventures and I think, this one is really for the books. Maybeone of the most successful kitchen experiments I've had. Although personally, I think this one really tops them all!

Last week, the Expat Daddy's and my chats on Facebook while we were both at work revolved around the Cebu Lechon that we have been craving for. We both agree that it would be a good idea to try it out since all ingredients are now readily available in Qatar. We were both so motivated and from the first conversation, it had developed into a full-blown plan!  We don't have any of the ingredients, but our major set back was the butcher's twine which we didn't know where to get. I even asked in one of my groups in Facebook if they knew where to buy. I received a couple of store recommendations and I relayed it to the Expat Daddy who was tasked to buy all we need. In the end, he came home with a yarn. LOL! 

But who cares?! We are really set on making it for our Friday lunch. So, yarn it is! My concern only was that the yarn may burn and not hold the meat while it cooks. Fortunately, my anxiety was for nothing. The yarn held just as well. 

Our little kitchen adventure  started on Thursday night. After another complicated dinner of steak, mashed potato, salad and roasted mushrooms. I didn't care how tired I was with the dinner preparation. I was really set on the lechon. So after Yaya finished washing up and cleaning the kitchen, the Expat Daddy and I tackled the task at hand. We already had the boneless belly thawed and now it's sitting in the kitchen counter at room temperature. In a bowl I mixed salt, crushed black pepper and coarsely chopped lemon grass, bay leaves and scallions. then I rubbed it on the non-skin side of the meat. After that the Expat Daddy helped me in rolling the meat and tying it (yes that was his only role! LOL!). I then mixed more salt and crushed black pepper in the same bowl and rubbed it on the skin side of the meat. After that I kept the meat back into the freezer overnight. 
Pardon the tying, we are amateurs :)

The next day, after waking up, I immediately took out the meat from the refrigerator to thaw up to room temperature.

In a Pyrex flat dish, I prepared the marinade by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, lemon grass, garlic, onions, bay leaves and scallions. I then transferred the rolled pork belly in to the marinade. Untied it so that I can also marinate the meat-side of the pork. I marinated it for about an hour, turning it over from time to time to marinate both sides evenly. After an hour, I scooped all the solid ingredients of the marinate and put it on the non-skin side of the meat and rolled the meat back again. 

I then turned on the oven to high and let it heat up for about 10-15 minutes before putting in the pork belly. I baked it for about 2 hours on medium heat and another 30 minutes on low heat until the skin is crisp.  After 2.5 hours, Viola! 
Crisp skin and tasty skin that's peeled off the succulent meat. Did I say Lechon Heaven? :)
We let it sit for about 10 minutes to cool down before chopping it. I mentioned that the skin was too crispy it just peeled itself off the fat portion of the meat. This really is oh so yum! We served it with steaming hot rice and Philippine mangoes for dessert. And then had an evil laugh right after! LOL! 
We kept the stuffing with the chopped lechon for added kick! 
Oh, I am so pleased with myself. Now 2 days after. I couldn't help myself but share the success with you fellow foodies out there. I am just too giddy with happiness. We all agree that we did well on our first try and we can't wait to try it again. I have actually boasted about it on Facebook and with our family, friends and relatives. And they're as excited as I am to try it out again and sample it to them. Yes people, it wouldn't be so far away. This is happening again!!!!  :)