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Recently summer came to the Northwest in earnest, and so to celebrate we sat outside with friends. As the sun went down we drank chilled Prosecco touched with Aperol (called Aperol aperitivo) and ate Chorizo Empanadas and Fresh Corn Fritters with Green Sauce. Great hot weather taste combinations.

Chorizo Empanadas
Makes 18 small empanadas

Empanadas with fresh salsa, hot and ready to eat.


  1. I love small empanadas, a few bites of delicious filling tucked inside flaky pastry and a perfect medium for spicy sauce. My problem with empanadas is the “flaky” pastry part. I almost never get it right. So this time, telling myself that all empanada pastry needs to do is provide a flaky package for fabulous filling and that delicate buttery flavor will overpower the filling anyway, I bought Marie Callender’s frozen dough.” La masa era perfecta.”
  2. Saved small amounts of leftover meats, pork, lamb, short ribs, and sausage make great tamale and empanada fillings. This time I found 3 uncooked chorizo sausages and a little leftover pulled pork in the freezer.
  3. I make my own Mexican seasoning combinations because I like to, and I want to control the salt, include powdered unsweetened dark chocolate, cinnamon, dried Mexican oregano and freshly ground cumin seeds.
  4. Unsweetened dark chocolate provides a rich flavor base to Mexican meat sauces and fermented black beans* (Asian, usually Chinese) add mustiness. Fresh mint brings a fresh taste that balances the rich spiciness. Lessons from Coyote Café, by Mark Miller, the brilliant Tex Mex chef and restaurateur.
  5. Serve empanadas with Red Sauce, Mexican Style Sour Cream or your favorite Fresh Salsa.

*Available in jars in the Asian condiment sections of large supermarkets and Asian specialty stores. I don’t buy brands that also contain garlic.


3 raw chorizo sausages, skin removed
¼ cup minced onion
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
¼ cup cooked pulled pork (optional)
¼ cup minced Poblano pepper
1 tbs. Mexican seasoning (Taco, Fajita or homemade etc.)
½ tsp. unsweetened dark chocolate (powdered or bits)
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. minced fresh oregano or ¼ tsp. dried Mexican oregano
1 tbs. fermented black beans (if beans are whole, smash them)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Hot sauce to taste
6 oz. part skim Queso Fresca
2 frozen piecrust shells, thawed
¼ cup egg wash


Preheat oven to 375º

  1. In a medium size fry pan, fry sausage, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Add onion and garlic and cook until sausage is done.
  2. Add pork, Poblano pepper, seasoning, chocolate, cinnamon, oregano and black beans and mix together over heat for about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Taste and add hot sauce to taste. Set aside to cool.
  3. Following package directions roll out dough, one crust at a time. Using an upside down glass or round cookie cutter, cut out 18, 3 ½” circles (or more if there is enough dough) using up all of the dough.
  4. Using your fingers, break up the cheese into pieces the size of garbanzo beans.
  5. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place about 1 tbs. chorizo mixture slightly off center toward the front of each piece. Place 3 or 4 pieces of cheese over the filling.

    Filling and cheese on a cut out dough circle.

    Fold from back to front into a half circle, pressing the ends together at the wide edge. Place each filled dough half circle on a baking sheet.

    Filled, pressed but not yet egg washed.

  6. Brush the completed empanadas with egg wash.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until surfaces are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately with Red Sauce, Mexican style sour cream garnished with a sprinkling of minced fresh cilantro, or fresh salsa at room temperature.

Red Sauce


¾ cup crushed canned tomato
1 tsp. Mexican seasoning
1 tsp. minced fresh mint
2 tbs. fresh lime juice
Hot sauce to taste

Mix ingredients and let flavors set up for about 15 minutes before serving.

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