Some of the most delightful dishes are born from the fusion of different cuisines. Enter this Birria Empanadas Recipe – a mouthwatering marriage of Mexican tradition and Latin American pastry expertise. These empanadas take the rich, savory flavors of birria, a beloved Mexican stew, and encase them in a delicate, golden pastry shell. The result? A culinary masterpiece that's sure to delight your taste buds and leave you craving for more.
Imagine tender chunks of pork shoulder, slow-cooked to perfection and infused with the smoky warmth of dried guajillo and ancho chilies. Picture the aromatic blend of spices, from cumin and oregano to cloves and cinnamon, working their magic on the palate. All of this, tucked inside a flaky, crispy empanada crust, ready to be devoured in every delectable bite.
In this recipe, we'll take you on a journey through the tantalizing steps of crafting these Birria Empanadas, from simmering the flavorful birria filling to folding and baking the empanadas to golden perfection. So, whether you're a seasoned chef looking to experiment with new flavors or a novice in the kitchen eager to embark on a culinary adventure, get ready to savor the fusion as we dive into this sensational Birria Empanadas recipe. Your taste buds are in for a treat!
What are Birria Empandas?
Birria empanadas are a delectable fusion of two distinct culinary traditions: birria, a traditional Mexican stew, and empanadas, a popular Latin American pastry. These empanadas are filled with a savory and flavorful birria mixture, creating a unique and delicious dish.
Birria empanadas can be served as a snack, appetizer, or even as a main course, and they are often garnished with fresh herbs like cilantro and served with a side of salsa or sauce for dipping. Their popularity has grown in recent years, thanks to the global fascination with birria and the versatility of empanadas. If you're a fan of either of these cuisines, birria empanadas are definitely worth trying for a delicious and satisfying culinary experience.
Why you will love this Birria Empanadas Recipe
- Flavor Explosion: This recipe brings together the rich, complex flavors of birria, featuring tender, slow-cooked meat infused with a medley of dried chilies, spices, and aromatic herbs. The result is an explosion of savory, smoky, and spicy tastes in every bite.
- Textural Harmony: Birria empanadas offer a delightful contrast in textures. The crispy, golden pastry shell of the empanada encases the succulent, flavorful birria filling, creating a harmonious combination of crunchy and tender textures.
- Versatile Delight: Whether you're planning a casual get-together, a family dinner, or a special occasion, birria empanadas can be served in various settings. They make for a satisfying snack, a crowd-pleasing appetizer, or even a main course that will impress your guests.
- Culinary Fusion: The fusion of two beloved culinary traditions—Mexican birria and Latin American empanadas—brings a unique twist to your dining experience. It's an exciting way to explore the diversity of Latin American cuisine.
Birria Empanadas Recipe Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Pork Shoulder
- Guajillo chilies
- Ancho chilies
- Bay leave
- Beef broth
- Empanada discs - usually found in the freezer section of your grocery store
See recipe card for quantities.
How to make this Birria Empanadas Recipe
Prepare the Chilies: Remove the stems and seeds from the dried guajillo and ancho chilies. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and toast the chilies for a minute or two until they become fragrant. Be careful not to burn them. Submerge the toasted chilies in hot water and let them soak for about 20-30 minutes until they become soft. Make the Chili Sauce: Once the chilies are softened, drain them and place them in a blender. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, ground cumin, dried oregano, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Blend the mixture until it forms a smooth paste. If it's too thick, you can add a little beef broth to help it blend.
Cook the Pork: In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat some oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork cubes and brown them on all sides. Pour in the chili sauce you made and stir to coat the pork evenly. Add the bay leaf and 4 cups of beef broth. Stir well. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let the birria simmer for 2-3 hours or until the pork is tender and the flavors meld together. You may need to add more beef broth if the mixture becomes too thick during cooking. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Assemble the Empanadas: Preheat your oven to the recommended temperature for the empanada discs. Place a spoonful of the birria filling onto each empanada disc. Fold the discs over to create a half-moon shape and seal the edges by pressing with a fork.
Pan Fry the Empanadas: In a skillet, add a cup of oil and heat it up on medium-high heat. Fry them 2-3 minutes per side. Add on a coloring rack.
Serve: Garnish your birria empanadas with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve them hot, and you can also serve them with additional birria sauce on the side for dipping.
Hint: Balance the Heat: Adjust the number of dried chilies to control the spiciness of your birria sauce. Remove the seeds and veins from the chilies for a milder flavor or leave them in for extra heat.
- Pork Shoulder: You can substitute pork shoulder with beef chuck, chicken, or even a plant-based meat alternative if you prefer a different protein.
- Dried Guajillo and Ancho Chilies: If you can't find these specific chilies, you can use other dried chili varieties like pasilla or New Mexico chilies. Adjust the quantity to your preferred level of spiciness.
- Onion and Garlic: Shallots can be a good substitute for onions, and garlic powder can replace fresh minced garlic if needed. Use approximately 1 teaspoon of garlic powder for every clove of fresh garlic.
- Ground Cumin: Coriander powder or chili powder can be used as an alternative spice for a different flavor profile.
- Dried Oregano: Marjoram or thyme can work as substitutes for dried oregano.
- Ground Cloves and Ground Cinnamon: If you don't have these spices on hand, you can omit them or use a pinch of allspice for a similar warm and sweet flavor.
- Bay Leaf: Bay leaves add subtle herbal notes, but if you don't have them, you can proceed without them.
- Beef Broth: Vegetable broth or chicken broth can be used instead of beef broth if you prefer or have dietary restrictions.
- Empanada Discs: If you can't find pre-made empanada discs, you can make your own dough using a basic empanada dough recipe. Alternatively, you can use puff pastry or pie dough as a substitute for a different texture.
- Cilantro: If you're not a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley or chives as a garnish or omit it altogether.
Birria Empanadas Recipe Variations
Cooking is a chance to be creative! Have fun with it and feel free to make your own variation.
- Birria Tacos-Inspired Empanadas: Take all the flavors of birria and combine them with classic taco fillings such as shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, grated cheese, and a dollop of sour cream inside your empanadas. It's a fusion of two Mexican classics in one tasty package.
- Vegetarian or Vegan Birria Empanadas: Substitute the meat with plant-based protein like jackfruit, mushrooms, or tofu for a delicious vegetarian or vegan version. You can marinate these ingredients in the birria sauce for flavor.
- Seafood Birria Empanadas: Instead of pork, use seafood such as shrimp or fish. Make a seafood birria sauce with dried chilies and seafood broth for a unique twist on the classic.
- Cheesy Birria Empanadas: Add a layer of shredded cheese to your empanadas before folding and sealing them. The cheese will melt into the birria filling, creating a gooey, savory delight.
- Fruit-Infused Birria Empanadas: For a sweet and spicy twist, add diced pineapple, mango, or apricot to the birria filling. The fruity sweetness complements the smoky chili flavors beautifully.
Check out my Birria Tacos Recipe.
- Large Mixing Bowl: You'll use this to prepare the birria filling and mix any additional ingredients you want to add.
- Cutting Board and Knife: For chopping onions, garlic, cilantro, or any other optional ingredients.
- Large Heavy-Bottomed Pot or Dutch Oven: You'll use this to cook the birria filling. Make sure it has a lid for simmering.
- Skillet or Pan (Optional): If you want to brown the pork before simmering, you'll need a skillet or pan for this step.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: For accurate measurements of ingredients.
- Tongs or a Fork: To handle the empanada discs and fill them.
- Plate or Tray: To hold the filled empanadas before frying.
- Cooking Oil: You'll need a cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil or canola oil, for frying the empanadas.
- Frying Pan or Skillet: A shallow frying pan or skillet is essential for pan-frying the empanadas.
- Spatula or Tongs: You'll use these to carefully flip the empanadas while pan-frying to ensure even cooking and browning.
- Plate or Tray with Paper Towels: Have a plate or tray lined with paper towels ready for placing the fried empanadas. This will help absorb any excess oil.
How to store Birria Empanadas
- Cooling Empanadas: Allow the cooked Birria Empanadas to cool to room temperature before storing them. Hot or warm empanadas can create condensation in storage, making them soggy.
- Wrap in Foil or Plastic Wrap: Individually wrap each empanada in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. This will help prevent them from drying out and also protect them from absorbing odors in the refrigerator.
- Place in an Airtight Container: After wrapping them individually, place the wrapped empanadas in an airtight container. You can use a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid or a resealable plastic bag. If using a container, consider placing a layer of parchment paper or wax paper between the empanadas to prevent sticking.
- Label and Date: To keep track of freshness, label the container or bag with the date of preparation.
- Refrigeration: Store the wrapped Birria Empanadas in the refrigerator. Empanadas can typically be refrigerated for up to 3-4 days. Beyond that, their quality may start to deteriorate.
- Freezing (Optional): If you want to store Birria Empanadas for a longer period, you can freeze them. Follow the same wrapping and container steps, but make sure they are tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn. Frozen empanadas can typically be stored for 2-3 months.
- Reheating: When you're ready to enjoy your stored empanadas, preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and heat them in the foil or wrap for about 10-15 minutes or until they're heated through. You can also reheat them in a microwave for a shorter time, but the oven will help maintain their crispiness.
Birria Empanadas Recipe Top tips
- Quality Ingredients: Use high-quality ingredients, especially for the meat and dried chilies. The quality of your ingredients will significantly impact the flavor of the final dish.
- Balance the Heat: Adjust the number of dried chilies to control the spiciness of your birria sauce. Remove the seeds and veins from the chilies for a milder flavor or leave them in for extra heat.
- Marinating the Meat: If time allows, marinate the meat in the birria sauce for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This will infuse the meat with rich flavors.
- Slow Cooking: Take your time to slow-cook the meat until it's incredibly tender. Low and slow cooking ensures the best texture and flavor in the filling.
- Season Well: Taste the birria sauce and filling as you go and adjust the seasonings accordingly. Don't be afraid to add a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lime juice if needed.
- Dough Handling: If you're making your own empanada dough, handle it gently and avoid overworking it. Over-kneading can make the dough tough.
- Proper Sealing: Seal the empanadas tightly to prevent the filling from leaking out during cooking. Use a fork to crimp the edges or twist and fold the edges over for a decorative touch.
- Oil Temperature: When frying the empanadas, maintain a consistent oil temperature. Too hot, and they'll burn; too cool, and they'll absorb excess oil. Aim for around 350-375°F (175-190°C).
- Drain Excess Oil: After frying, place the cooked empanadas on a paper towel-lined plate or tray to drain any excess oil.
- Serve with Dipping Sauces: Offer a variety of dipping sauces, such as salsa, guacamole, or sour cream, to complement the flavors and enhance the overall experience.
- Garnish Fresh: Sprinkle fresh cilantro or other herbs over the empanadas just before serving to add a burst of color and freshness.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove