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Shouldn't roll empanada dough?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I will be making empanadas with a standard masa harina dough. The recipe clearly states not to roll the dough, that I should either use a tortilla press or pat the dough balls into 6" circles. I can't figure out what would go wrong with rolling the dough in a large sheet, then using a round cookie cutter to cut the empanadas. Can someone can enlighten me?
post #2 of 7
If this is your first crack at empanadas, look for something more like pie dough than tortilla dough. Personally, I use the same ol' same ol', sugar-free, all lard - no butter, pate brisee variant, I use for many savory dough purposes.

To my knowledge (which isn't what you'd call extensive), masa harina doughs aren't often used for empanadas. I imagine it would be sticky and difficult to shape and flatten; and having been shaped and flattened, very fragile and difficult proplematic to fold over. These difficulties stem from using a corn based flour and a fluffy fat.

That said, there's no reason you couldn't roll it out. Heck, tortillas hecho a mano can be rolled. There's even a special little, tapered, stone rolling pin for doing it. However, it's a lot more difficult to do without screw ups than using a press.

Unless the no roll rule was engraved on stone tablets before being attached to the package, I wouldn't overestimate their reach.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Maybe you're on to something

This isn't my first foray into the world of empanadas, although it is the first recipe that calls for only masa harina, and not the usual mixture of white flour, masa, and cornmeal. I think you're right in that the dough would be too crumbly and difficulty to work roll, which would account for using a tortilla press or your hands. Although I'm curious how something that crumbly would fold into a decent empanada, I'm thinking I'll use my tried-and-true empanada dough recipe.

Thanks for the input!
post #4 of 7

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...

So, after posting I decided to educate myself. Couldn't have been before, right?

As you already know, Latin cuisine is very regional -- so while empanadas may be everywhere, different regions do them differently. It seems that masa harina, at least as one component, is not uncommon in "Southwestern" cuisine as well as the (Mexican) states bordering on the US Southwest.

Typically, dry masa harina is mixed with flour in more or less equal proportions. The flour would lend a lot of flexibility.

The recipes on the Food Network site, as well as those associated with "gourmet" magazines seem to concentrate on a particular variant which uses 2 parts masa harina, 1 part AP, and one part corn meal. Just speculating, but I imagine this variant and its various sub-variants had a single source.

If you're going to roll a masa harina dough out with a pin, it would be a very good idea to sandwich the dough between sheets of wax paper before and during the rolling. That stuff sticks like crazy, and you don't want to use a lot of bench flour.

If you've got a press, use it.


PS You posted after I'd started writing this addition; it appears you already knew everything I had to say. Rather than deleting it though, I'm going to leave it for the sake of anyone less famliar with empanadas.
post #5 of 7
Umm... BDL -

You're being even more enigmatic that usual.

Who's Pinky? ;)


Like the new smilies, by the way
travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
post #6 of 7
If I had to guess, BDL's signature quote is from "Pinky & the Brain."
post #7 of 7
Yep, that's pinky and the brain.

I made masa based empanadas a few weeks back with some leftover roasted turkey. In my limited experience, I've only had masa beased empanadas fried. I really liked them but they pose the risks BDL mentions.

I usually make the baked savory dough type and would probably stick with that most times in the future. Much less hassle and mess.

I have a tortilla press so that was a good help for me. The masa dough was prone to cracking when folded and sealed. This lets the oil in when fried which is less than desirable but not intolerable. The ones I've had commercially were made in a special press/form of some sort that solved the forming and cracking issues. But they lacked the character of a hand crafted one. This was at a local Salvadoran dive.

For what's involved in making a fried masa empanada, flautas would be easier with better results for most home cooks IMHO.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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