Every country has some type of filled food, dumpling, tamale, calzone, pasty or hand pie. No matter what you call them, what they are filled with or how they are shaped this is one of my favorite ways to explore food around the world. I like empanadas, the Latin version of a hand pie, they can be baked or fried, filled with meat, veggies, beans or tiny little shrimps like the ones I had from a road side stall in Puerto Rico. When making empanadas for a crowd I never consider frying them, hot oil schlopping around in a pan while the boat is rolling back and forth is a disaster waiting to happen, so my empanadas are always baked. The crust could go two ways, light and crisp with multiple layers from puff pastry or what I prefer is an altered pie dough, the end result is flakey but sturdy so it can be picked up and eaten by hand.
These empanadas are filled with a chili infused barbequed pulled pork, roasted poblano strips and a thick slice of mango. The warmth the pork provides plays well with the creamy sweetness of the mango while the poblano is a supporting role with it’s subtle smoky heat. Encasing the filling is a pie dough fortified with eggs, they help to add a bit more structure so the crust won’t fall apart, it also allows more flexibility when folding the dough over to seal in the flavors. Finally, all the half moon shaped pies get brushed with a beaten egg, this gives them an attractive golden color and crisps up the outer layer.