Empanadas de viento

Empanadas de viento are one of my favorite Ecuadorian street foods.  It is common to see ladies on the streets selling baskets full of empanadas de viento.  Viento means “wind” or “air” in Spanish, and these empanadas are soft, doughy and delicious.  The airyness of the empanadas is courtesy of the butter and the seltzer water used to make them.  They are also called empanadas de viento because traditionally the filling is nothing but a smidgen of cheese, and the rest is just “viento” or wind!  The good thing is that the sugar sprinkled all over the empanadas makes up for the non-existent cheese.  I am not following tradition, and I stuffed these empanadas with enough cheese to make your tummy happy and not eat just viento.

Empanadas de viento

In this video, I show you how to make these empanadas, which are super easy.  Additionally, I will teach you how to “repulgar”, which is the Spanish term for making that cool, rope-like twist that seals them empanadas.  And as with everything, practice makes perfect.    The recipe is below the video.  Enjoy!

Empanadas de Viento: Ecuadorian Cheese Empanadas

Ingredients

    For the dough:
  • 1 cup + 1/3 of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup seltzer water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • For the filling:
  • 8 oz. crumbled queso fresco
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Granulated sugar for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix 1 cup of flour, salt and butter. Work this mixture with your hands to incorporate the butter with the flour; squeeze all the ingredients together until you have a mealy consistency to the mixture. Work on this for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the seltzer water and continue to knead. At this point the dough will be quite sticky.
  3. Add the additional 1/3 cup of flour in small increments, working the dough until it is smooth and supple. Knead this dough for 10 minutes.
  4. Once the dough is smooth, let rest for another 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 10 golf-sized dough balls.
  6. Sprinkle flour on your countertop and rolling pin, and roll out each ball, forming discs of 5 inches in diameter.
  7. Place some cheese towards the center of the disc.
  8. Fold one side of the disc over, forming a half-moon. Pinch the edges together to close the empanadas and seal the contents inside.
  9. To make the rope-like edge, grab the corner of the pinched dough in between your thumb and your index finger. Pull slightly and fold over onto itself. Repeat this process all along the rest of the edge of the empanada. Do the same with the remaining 9 dough balls.
  10. In a large pot, heat vegetable oil until it reaches 375F, which is deep-frying point.
  11. Place the empanadas with the folded side down, into the oil. Fry until the empanadas are golden brown, and some bubbles form on the surface of the empanadas.
  12. Fry the empanadas 1-2 at a time so the oil does not decrease in temperature. Otherwise, the empanadas turn out soggy.
  13. Remove the empanadas from the oil and place them on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
  14. Sprinkle the empanadas on both sides with a generous amount of granulated sugar.
  15. Serve warm.
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