Hands down empadinha are one of my favorite Brazilian snacks. Found in any lanchonete (snack shop), padaria (bakery), or cafe empadinha’s are the perfect savory snack to have with a good strong cup of coffee. Usually you have a choice of filling, with frango (chicken), palmito (hearts of palm), and queijo (cheese) being the most common. Once you eat one of these you will want to eat one every day.
Empadinha is a small cupcake sized pastry filled with a savory filling. The pastry is not like your usual pie pastry, instead, the pastry for the empadinha is usually much thicker and as soon as you take your first bite the whole thing should fall apart. Although it is not the easiest thing to eat, one of my favorite parts of eating empadinha is the fact that the pastry is so crumbly and falls apart.
There are different ways of referring to this little chicken pie in Brazil which I think you should know about. Empada is what they are really called, but everyone calls them empadinha which basically means ‘little empada’. When you have a big empada it is called empadão or litterally ‘big empada’!
I have wanted to make empadinha for a long time but was always a little bit nervous. I love making pastry and over the past years I have considerably improved my pastry making skills. My apprehension with making empadinha was that I couldn’t really find the right recipe. Every recipe I found had a different pastry recipe and I became overwhelmed and couldn’t decide which one would give me the perfect falling-apart-pastry that I wanted. In the end I found two recipes that I liked, mixed them together, added my own twists, and made delicious empadinha that were devoured really fast!
I ended up making much larger than usual empadinha’s and my pastry was a little bit thinner than normal. But, they tasted perfect, the pastry was light and crumbly, and most importantly, fell apart when you took your first bite. Everything in the baking process went surprisingly smooth. When I started making these I was not convinced I would have an easy time in the kitchen, but luckily I was wrong. My only advice for if you are going to make these is make a large enough quantity so that you can freeze them and have them quickly ready to eat when you want!
If you want to try a different filling you can use the recipe for the filling of my Hearts of Palm Pie.
3 egg yolks
200 ml water
600 g (1.3 lbs) white flour
1 tsp salt
300 g (10oz) butter or margarine
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten, for brushing
1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 tomatoes, peeled, deseeded, and finely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 can of peas (optional)
Handful of green or black olives, finely sliced
6 tbsp parsley
2 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp white flour
Pastry: Put the flour, salt, and butter or margarine in a bowl. Mix well until it resembles breadcrumbs. Lightly beat the egg yolk and water together and add, a little at a time, to the flour and butter mix. Mix well until the pastry just holds together. It is ok if it crumbly, this pastry is supposed to be crumbly. Wrap in plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge, lightly dust a worktop with flour and roll out the pastry. Leave the pastry relatively thick. Grease a muffin tin and put the pastry in the muffin forms. Cut rounds for the top of the pies.
Filling: In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fry until soft, but not browning. Add the garlic and leave to fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato and fry for a approximately 5-8 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and fry for another 5 minutes. Add the flour and mix well. Pour in the chicken broth a little at a time until you have a thick mixture. You do not want the filling to be too runny. Add the parsley, olives, and salt to taste. Leave to cool.
Assembling: Heat the oven to 200C/400F. Once the filling is slightly cool spoon into the prepared muffin tins. Close the pies with the prepared pastry tops. Seal well and brush with egg yolk. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
> For the chicken I like to boil it in water using my pressure cooker. This usually takes about 30 minutes.
> I use the stock from the chicken instead of store bought stock.
> You can also freeze these after baking to eat at a later time!
> If you don’t want to go through the hassle of making all the small empadinha’s you can make this into one large pie, just use a large pie dish!
For a PDF of this recipe CLICK HERE!