I had a New Years Day dinner party and decided to have a Hispanic theme. I usually make my Chiles en Nogada for Christmas, but I was busy working on Christmas Eve and decided to postpone that tradition till New Years. I have done a lot of regional Mexican and South American cooking, spent a great deal of time in Latin America from a young age and went to cooking school in Mexico. Since moving to the Low Country, I have been interested in the spin that my friend Sandra A. Gutierrez has put on some of the traditional Latino recipes and ingredients in her book The New Southern-Latino Table. I decided to incorporate a few of her recipes into my menu for New Years and the first one was Collard Green Empanadas. In the south it is a tradition to eat two things on New Years, greens which represent folded money and black eyed peas which represent good luck. Sandra had recipes using both ingredients, so I made them her way with a few twists of my own.
Here is the recipe for the empanadas. She suggested frying store bought empanadas dough or and I wanted to bake, so I used store bought pie pastry & baked them because of the time and mess crunch with all of the other parts of the meal. But you can make them with your favorite pastry dough too. I have filling leftover and plan on doing that next weekend.
2 Tablespoons Bacon Drippings (or vegetable oil)
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or shallots
1 tablespoon Vik’s Garlic Fix (or 4 garlic cloves finely chopped + a teaspoon of salt)
1 bag of chopped frozen collard greens
1/2 cup cooked and chopped bacon (I bake my bacon with Sweet Onion Sugar on it)
1 8 ounce package of cream cheese
1/2 cup cojita or fresco cheese (optional) these cheeses can be found at Hispanic markets or the Piggly Wiggly if you live in Charleston, KTA if you are on the Big Island of Hawaii
16 empanada disks or 1 package of Pillsbury pie dough.
In a large skillet heat the oil/drippings and cook the onions till translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about 20 seconds, then add the drained collard greens. Saute for a few minutes and remove from the heat, cool for 20 minutes.
On a floured surface roll out the pie dough to an increase of about 25%. Cut circles with a biscuit cutter or glass. *you can make them bigger if you have a larger cutter, using more filling.
Put a teaspoon of filling on each disk and brush the egg wash around the edges. Close and seal, using a fork to crimp the edges. Use the remaining egg was on top of the empanadas. Sprinkle with the flavored sugar. Top with Habenero Sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with salsa.