Little Bites: Guillermo Pernot of Cuba Libre’s Empanada de la Casa

Oftentimes chefs don’t want to cook another meal when they get home after an arduous 12-hour stretch behind the burners. But throwing together a comforting snack to help take the edge off the day is another proposition entirely. These scrumptious nibbles don’t require a degree from the Culinary Institute of America to make, but they’re worthy of winning a Top Chef Quickfire Challenge.

This week, Cuba Libre’s concept chef Guillermo Pernot reveals the recipe for his restaurant’s signature empanadas packed with chicken, corn, sweet peppers and Monterey Jack cheese. Making these Cuban street food favorites might sound like a daunting task, but using empanada discs (which can be found at specialty grocers and in the frozen section of many grocery stores) instead of making dough from scratch cuts down on the prep exponentially. That way you can spend your time doing more important things, like gorging on homemade empanadas.

 

Empanada de la Casa 

Makes 10 empanadas

Ingredients

  • 10 empanada discs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 12 ounces boneless skinless chicken thigh
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 4 ounces onions, small dice
  • 1 ear corn, kernels stripped
  • ¼ tablespoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

 Directions

1. Partially freeze the chicken.  Dice partially frozen chicken very finely, or grind to medium if possible.  You can also purchase ground chicken.

2. Strip corn kernels from ear of corn.

3. In a sauté pan, heat oil and sauté onions until softened, but do not pick up any color.  Add the ground chicken, oregano, and crushed red pepper.  Cook chicken about half way and then add corn and salt.

4. Finish cooking, adjust seasoning and cool the mixture.  Once cool, add cheese before assembling empanadas.

5. Make an egg wash from the eggs and water; whisk well to combine.

6. Fill each empanada disc with 1.75 oz of filling.  Brush the edges of the disc with egg wash and close.  Press and crimp edge to seal.

7. Prepare a cookie sheet or baking dish by lining with parchment paper and spraying with nonstick spray.  Place empanadas on the sheet and bake at 400°F for 8 minutes.

8. After 8 minutes, remove from the oven and brush tops with a tin layer of egg wash.  Return to the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes longer.