I have a confession to make. I hate cooking at home for Easter and Thanksgiving dinners. Here’s why: I’m a only child. And what that means is that our little family is a four-top at best right now. My mom and I finally came to the realization that it’s because our extended family lives so far away that our holiday dinners end up being so labor intensive. There’s no one to bring the side dishes! It’s up to us to put a whole meal on the the table. Well, this Easter was no different: deviled eggs, ham, parmesan potatoes, asparagus… it was all us!
By this time you’re completely stumped what Easter dinner has to do with crimping empanadas, right? I have one word for you: leftovers.
When you’re a four-top and you buy a whole spiral sliced ham for Easter dinner you’ve got a ton of food left over. It just so happened that on this particular occasion I had just read a thrilling article on Spoon, Fork, Bacon about Quiche Pockets. PERFECT! We had a bunch of left over ham and eggs from our Easter dinner… what better to do than make up some fancy-pants quiche pockets?! I’ve been looking for an awesome reheatable dinner to eat after spin class anyway!
So, after three and a half hours of cooking Easter dinner my mother and I set out on an epic adventure to make Quiche Pockets, Empanada Style. (The main impetus behind this little foray into baking was the awesomely cute crimped edge on the quiche pockets).
The first step in making the Quiche Pockets was to find a video tutorial on how to crimp empanadas. Thanks to YouTube and the interwebs, this was a simple task. And thanks to the one-hit-wonder of Cousin Jack’s Pasty House, we were well on our way to becoming empanada crimping magicians… or so we thought!
Cousin Jack has a got a great rhythm… get your thumb and fold it over… get your thumb and fold it over… crimp, crimp, crimp, crimp… tuck it under… give it a bit of a hug. Sure! We’ve got this!
Oh, so wrong. We tried and tried to mimic Cousin Jack, but to no avail. Our pockets were mashed and mangled. My brain just couldn’t seem to grasp what Cousin Jack was doing with his hands. And then it dawned on me… maybe Cousin Jack was left handed!!! So I started from the opposite side of the pocket and miracle of miracles I ended up with a perfect empanada crimp! Mastery is so fulfilling.
The recipe calls for the pockets to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking, then bake for 30 minutes. So while the first tray was baking and the second tray was chilling Mom and I put our legs up the wall. Without even realizing it, we had been cooking for a marathon of nearly EIGHT hours! Sometimes being upside down gives you just the perspective that you’re looking for.
It was to our surprise and delight that these little gems cooked up beautifully in a fantastically flaky crust. Honestly, they could use a bit more filling. I think that we were being a little conservative because we were so worried about the crimping. Next time I’ll be a little bit more bold when I fill them – really jam as much goodness in as possible.
Adapted (every so slightly) from Spoon, Fork, Bacon's recipe. These little gems are amazing and so versatile. I'm already thinking of other fantastic fillings to use in them (read: smoked salmon & cream cheese... herbed risotto... winter mushrooms & smoked chicken).
- 2.5 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold, butter (we used salted... it's what we had), cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- 3-4 tablespoons ice water
- 1 cup ham, diced (we used our left-over glazed ham)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1-2 tablespoons half & half
- 2 ounces gruyere, swiss, or jarlsberg cheese, coarsely grated
- 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- For the pie dough: Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Place dry ingredients and butter into a food processor and pulse together until a fine mealy texture forms. Transfer mixture to a bowl and hand incorporate water one tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together. The dough should not be overly wet or overly dry. (Note: the weather will have an effect on how much water you actually need to make the dough come together. Don't be surprised if the amount is different each time you make it!) Form dough into one or two flat discs, wrap each in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes in the fridge.
- For filling: Mix ham, eggs, half & half, cheeses, and salt & pepper together in a mixing bowl. The filling consistency should be "pasty" - you definitely don't want this mixture to be runny.
- Preheat oven to 425oF. Roll out chilled dough on a lightly floured surface. You want your dough to be thin; less than 1/8 inch thick. The thinner your dough, the easier it will be to crimp! Cut out 5-6 inch rounds and place a scoop of filling in the center of each round.
- Using Uncle Jack's technique, fold over and crimp the edges of each pocket. Step back and admire your awesome work.
- Place each pocket on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Pierce the top of each pocket with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape while cooking - make your pierces into a pretty pattern (because it's fun).
- Chill pockets for 30 minutes in the fridge. After chilling, brush the tops of your pockets with an egg wash.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
- If you wish to make ahead and reheat: Prepare pockets as described above. Allow them to cool completely and wrap individually in foil. You may refrigerate or freeze (if you're freezing, thaw before reheating). To reheat, bake in foil in on 350-375 for 15 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!