Pastelitos Salvadoreños/Salvadoran Empanadas are crispy and delectable, filled with minced meat and vegetables. They are served with curtido and salsa casera. In El Salvador they are served as an afternoon snack, but they also make great appetizers for parties. To save time, cook the fillings and assemble the empanadas the day before. You can refrigerate them overnight in a covered container before frying them.
Serves 4-6 (2-3 per person)
1 cup instant corn masa flour
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground annatto (achiote) seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup cooled Minced Pork and Vegetables (Recipe below)
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots (Recipe below)
Place the corn masa flour in a shallow bowl. Mix in the water, ground annatto, and salt. Knead by hand for about 5 minutes until the dough is moist and fluffy. If needed, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide the dough into 12 equal small balls. The dough can be prepared the day before, if covered and refrigerated.
With wet hands, press and pat each ball between your palms and flatten into thin dough rounds that are about 3 inches in diameter. Place the flattened rounds on top of plastic wrap, waxed paper, or a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from sticking to any solid surface.
In the center of each dough round, place about ½ to 1 tablespoon of the Minced Pork and Vegetable filling, then fold the dough over the fillings into a crescent. Seal the edges with your fingertips or the tines of a fork.
In a medium saucepan heat the oil over a medium to high flame until very hot or 360ºF if using a frying thermometer. Fry the empanadas until golden brown. Serve with a side of Pickled Cabbage and Carrots.
Minced Pork and Vegetables
Picadillo de Cerdo con Verduras
This is a tasty and versatile dish, is also the recipe for the filling used in Salvadoran pastelitos (empanadas). It makes a delicious side dish too. The finely diced meat and vegetables give it a nice texture to the bite. The pork can be substituted with boneless chicken thighs.
Use as filling for Salvadoran Empanadas
or Serves 4-6
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks
6 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup minced tomato, seeds removed
½ cup finely diced potatoes
½ cup finely diced carrots
½ cup peeled, pitted, and finely diced chayote
½ cup thinly sliced fresh green beans
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Rinse the pork in cold water.
In a deep pot, combine the pork, water, bay leaf, and salt over high heat. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Skim the foam from the top; repeat as necessary. Cover the pot and cook for about 2 hours or until the meat is very tender. Uncover and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove the meat from the pot and let it rest on a chopping board for 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf, and reserve 1 cup of broth. Finely dice the pork and set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and tomato, and sauté for 1 minute; then add the potatoes, carrots, chayote, green beans, and broth. Combine and bring to a quick boil, reduce the flame to low, cover, and cook all the vegetables for about 10 minutes or until tender. Add the meat and pepper and stir together. Correct the salt.
Remove from heat and let it cool before using as a filling for the empanadas, or serve hot as a side dish.
Pickled Cabbage, Onions, and Carrots Curtido
This recipe is a must when serving Pupusas, Crispy Fried Yuca and Pork, or Empanadas. The sour-pickled flavor of the cabbage, onions, and carrots is a perfect complement to savory foods.
2 cups shredded green cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup thinly sliced onion
4 cups white vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns (optional)
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes or 1 Serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional)