My Ham and Cheese Empanadas are flaky, buttery baked dough shaped in half moon circles, wrapped around a heaping amount of sweet ham, cubed potatoes and a dollop of grated cheese. Freshly baked, they are plump with the ham filling, and the pastry is bursting at the sides, with the cheese threatening to explode out.
After six weeks of Lent and following the traditions of simple seafood and vegetable fare on Fridays, my family is always hungry and ready for a big hefty meal. So now it’s Easter and you probably have family and friends over whom you’d like to spend time with. The solution to that is to cook ahead. When you have make-ahead dishes – from starters, soups, appetizers to entrees and desserts, then you earn more time to relish with your loved ones.
A whole baked ham is ideal to make ahead. I often do this the day before the holiday itself. Then I cover it tightly to keep the flavors and moisture within. The day of the dinner I reheat the ham and some other entrees I cooked ahead. This time our ham was huge. We earned enough grocery points which entitled us to a humongous piece that was way larger than my largest stockpot or roasting pan. I had to slice the ham in half to make it fit in my roasting pan. After baking the ham, I realized we still had more than enough portions even if we had a big crowd coming. But there was no big crowd coming. It was just us. So, I did the next best thing. I transformed some of the ham into Ham and Cheese Empanadas.
Empanadas are like hand pies. They’re made with a pastry dough, filled with different ingredients and baked. When I baked these ahead for brunch, it was marvelous to inhale the freshly-baked sweet pastry. There was also enough ham and cheese empanadas for the lunches and snacks in the coming weeks. Once out of the oven, the crust was golden brown and had a flaky, crisp texture. As we sliced the empanadas in half, the cheese tendrils had melted into a creamy consistency and smothered the tender ham cubes. The buttery aroma of the half-moon-shaped empanadas filled the table. It was wonderful.
Make the time to enjoy the simple things like spending time with family. Look up from that pile of work on your desk. Step away from the clutter of everyday. Untie your apron and walk away from the kitchen. Go outdoors. Or laze on the couch. Gather the family around the table for stories. It’s the simple things in life that are the mosaic tiles which make up the big picture of lasting memories.
Happy Easter, folks!
Ham and Cheese Empanadas are a great make-ahead appetizer, side or entree for any big event. Whether you're the host of the family gathering this weekend or bringing something for the potluck, these buttery, flaky empanadas filled with tender ham cubes and cheese that melted will delight everyone. The best thing about this is you can make it ahead, freeze the uncooked empanadas and then bake them when the guests and family arrive. It's that simple. The pastry crust recipe was inspired by the Memories of Philippine Kitchens Cookbook by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan. The ham-cheese filling is an Asian In America recipe. Makes about 18 empanadas.
- unbleached all-purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups, for pastry
- salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- unsalted butter - 6 Tablespoons, chilled, straight from the refrigerator, cut into small pieces
- egg - 1 large, chilled, beaten, for pastry
- iced water - 4 Tablespoons, or as needed, for pastry
- cooked ham - 1 1/2 cups, cubed
- potatoes - 2 large pieces, peeled, cubed
- white onion - 1 medium, chopped
- grated cheddar cheese - 1/2 cup
- sea salt - 1 teaspoon
- freshly-ground black pepper powder - 1 teaspoon
- egg - 1 piece, beaten, for egg wash
- milk - 2 Tablespoons, for egg wash
- To make the pastry dough: Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the butter into the flour using a pastry blender until the texture resembles coarse meal with visible bits of butter. Stir the egg into the flour mixture and pulse in a food processor until all ingredients are incorporated. Add ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
- To make the filling: In a medium skillet, saute onions till transparent. Add cubed potatoes and cook for about 8 minutes.
- Add the cubed ham to the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from fire and set aside.
- On a floured surface, roll out the pastry dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.
- With a round cookie cutter measuring about 4 inches in diameter, cut circles from the pastry dough.
- Fill half of it with the ham and potato filling. Top with half a teaspoon of grated cheese.
- Brush egg wash on the inside edges. Fold dough into a half circle and seal with a fork.
- Place empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush empanadas with egg wash consisting of one beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of milk.
- In a preheated oven of 375 degrees, bake empanadas for 20 minutes. When done, cool on counter.
- Cook's Comments: If it is more convenient, use store-bought pastry dough. If it helps, you can use an empanada dough shaper/cutter for this recipe. I got mine from Amazon and it saves me the effort of cutting the dough with a cookie cutter.
- Cooking Tip: If you don't have time to bake a whole ham, try using ham slices from the supermarket deli. They'll be just as good for this empanada recipe.
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Make Ahead Sunday Supper Easter Brunch Recipes
Easter is the perfect day to throw a fun spring brunch. All the bright colors in the spring, make for some delicious dishes! But, with getting the house cleaned and filling easter baskets, finding time to cook can be stressful. Do you have tips and tricks to make throwing the perfect brunch easier? My friends from the Sunday Supper Tastemakers want to share our best make ahead brunch recipes so that you can sit back and relax on Easter morning.
A big thanks to this week's organizers:
Event host: Cindy from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Campaign Manager: Cricket [email protected]
- Apple and Bacon Cornmeal Scones by Caroline’s Cooking
- Blueberry Lemon Muffins by Casa de Crews
- Lemon Crumb Cake by Life Tastes Good
- Nana’s New York Crumb Cake by The Crumby Cupcake
- Overnight Nutty Coffee Cake by Family Around The Table
- Asparagus Quiche in Hash Brown Crust by The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Baked Deviled Eggs with Toast Points by Turnips 2 Tangerines
- Breakfast Bread Bowls by Brunch-n-Bites
- Ham and Cheese Empanadas by Asian In America
- Make Ahead Baked Monte Cristo Cassarole by Sprinkles and Sprouts
- Overnight Breakfast Casserole by Soulfully Made
- Overnight Sausage and Broccoli Egg Bake by Our Good Life
- Sorrel, Chive & Duck Egg Frittata by Wholistic Woman
- Sous Vide Egg Bites by Cricket’s Confections
- Tuna Deviled Eggs by Palatable Pastime
Sides and Veggies
- Asparagus Tart with Goat Cheese and Spring Greens by Monica’s Table
- Baked Chili Maple Bacon by Food Lust People Love
- Blackberry Orange Oatmeal Bowls by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Brussels Sprouts Salad with Lemon Shallot Vinaigrette by Helpful Homemade
- Overnight Gluten Free Oats by Gluten Free Crumbley
- Vegetable Lasagna by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Citrus Crepes with White Chocolate Drizzle by Gourmet Everyday
- Flourless Chocolate Torte by Pies and Plots
- No Bake Peanut Butter Pie by The Freshman Cook
- Raspberry Mascarpone French Toast Casserole by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Strawberry Almond Crumble by Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.