Surprisingly Gluten-Free Empanadas

I have to admit that I am always a skeptic when someone says 'gluten-free'. Often-times substitutions just mean something that tastes a lot worse than the original. But when something is already gluten-free - like a great flourless chocolate cake - I am right on board.


You would not think that empanadas fit into that category but in Ecuador they actually do. That's because they use starchy plantains to make the dough. When I first head about Luis Jaramillo's version at his restaurant Fifty I was intrigued. And then I tasted them and now I am a convert. They are a great treat for any friends you have who are gluten-free or you can completely ignore the gluten-free aspect and just eat some truly delicious empanadas.

He very kindly shared the recipe with us - which you can see in this video or you can just follow the recipe below. 

Plantain Empanada Recipe

Makes 16
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 1 ½ hours

for the dough:
6 green plantains (4 ½ ounces|2 kg)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon hondashi
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

for the filling:
1 1/2 pounds|700 grams chorizo
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 ounce calabrian chilies, minced

for the sauce:
1/2 cup|125 ml champagne vinegar
2 garlic cloves
2 large egg yolks
1 bunch cilantro
1 jalapeno, stemmed
1 shallot, peeled
½ cup|125 ml canola oil

to finish:
canola oil, for greasing and frying

Make the dough: Peel the plantains (it is easier to peel them if you pop them in a very hot oven for a few minutes first, then score them). Cut them into 1-inch pieces. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the plantains and the bay leaves. Cook until the plantains are soft, 8 minutes. Drain, then discarding the bay leaves, then place the plantains in a food processor along with the hondashi, salt, and oil. Purée until smooth and slightly elastic. The machine will kind of stop moving when this happens.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the chorizo and cook, stirring and breaking it up into smaller pieces, until crisp and golden, 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a large bowl. Add the onion and cook until lightly golden, 4 minutes. Stir in the calabrian chilies and transfer everything to the bowl with the chorizo, tossing to combine. Set aside to cool.

Make the sauce: Put the vinegar, garlic, egg yolks, cilantro, jalapeño, and shallot in a blender and purée until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the empanadas: Take a gallon ziplock bag and, using scissors, cut off the ziplock top and open up the side seams so you have a large sheet of flat plastic. Grease it all over on one side with canola oil. Put 4 ounces|115 grams of dough on the greased side of the plastic wrap and flatten it into a 6-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Place 3 tablespoons filling in the center of the dough and, using the plastic wrap, fold the dough up and over the filling, enclosing it. Using a 4-inch round bowl or glass, cut the edges of the empanada, sealing it shut. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Heat 3-inches canola oil in a large saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 350°F. Working in batches, fry the empanada until lightly golden on the outside, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve with the dipping sauce.