Aji De Gallina Empanadas

Aji De GallinaAs you all may already know, I am in love with everything empanada. Since meeting Rafael and being introduced to the many delicioso dishes of Peru and Latin America, I have discovered “The Empanada!” Empanadas are so scrumptious and very versatile. You can put anything into empanada shells. You can have savoury empanadas or sweet empanadas. You can have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The first time I ate an empanada was in Kensington Market in Downtown Toronto at the Jumbo Empanada. Of all the places I have eaten empanadas since, they truly make the best empanada. They have two kinds of empanada; the classic with beef and more popular chicken empanada. In the past three years I have experimented with my own concoctions of “The Empanada” and although I am of Greek descent I have been given complements from my Prima Gilda who is Rafael cousin. I have once been told that the secret to the perfect empanada is the dough. Perhaps this person was right. I have tried many brands of empanada shells and I have even tried to make my own dough but I will have to argue with my Primo Rodrigo. I say that it’s all in the filling. You can have the most delicate, buttery tasting dough but if what is inside that dough is bland, forget about it. You might as well fold up the shell, oil it well and bake them like that. To this date I have made empanadas six different ways: Classic, Chicken, Shrimp, Sausage & Egg, Canadiana (turkey) and Nutella. Today I am adding one more to my repertoire Aji De Gallina Empanada.


3 breasts; skin and bone on
1 large onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
canola oil
1/2 tbsp turmeric
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp aji paste
1 cups of milk
1 cup bread crumbs
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 package of small empanada shells (10 to 12 in a pack)
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Boil chicken breasts in water adding 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, salt and pepper to create the broth. Boil for 30 to 40 minutes. Once the chicken is boiled remove chicken from the pot and reserve broth.

2. When the chicken has cooled down shred well and place in bowl.

3. In a dutch oven brown the diced onions and garlic in canola oil. Saute until onions are soft.

4. Add the tumeric, cumin, aji paste and bread crumbs to create a rue.

5. Slowly add the milk and broth. Stir until combined.

6. Add the shredded chicken and stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.

7. Lastly add the pecan and Parmesan cheese.

If you don’t want to make the Aji de Gallina into empanadas you may want to add more milk or broth to make it creamier. However, if you are going to be using the Aji de Gallina as a stuffing for your empanadas the ingredients listed above are just enough for the right consistency of liquid to chicken.

8. Preheat oven to 400F. If you have a convection oven even better. They puff up nicely.

9. In the centre of each empanada shell place 1 tbsp of Aji De Gallina. Be carefully not to over stuff the shells otherwise you will get leakage and possibly explosions.

10. Fold over into a half moon. Crimp and pinch dough around the edges to seal the shells.

11. Poke small holes on the top of each empanada to create a vent for the steam and brush with olive oil.

12. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Every few months “The Swap” Book Club gets together to swap books, catch up and eat. This time I am hosting and since I’ve been going on about how yummy Peruvian food is to my friends, I decided to treat them to lunch – A la Peruana. These rico Aji De Gallina Empanadas are on the menu.



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