The lovely Fromage Homage has done it again! You see, like many, many other people, I have a recipe bucket list. Books, movies, food shows, food magazines, blogs… there is a never-ending supply of inspiration. An idea is planted, google gets a workout, and so, my list grows…
Manchego has been a cheese I’ve wanted to try and to cook with for a while now. It’s a Spanish hard sheep’s milk cheese, which is this month’s Cheese, Please! Recipe Blog Challenge. It is similar to pecorino, but smoother, sweeter and with less bite.
Depending on how long it has aged for, manchego cheese’s taste and texture changes quite significantly. Young manchego is aged for about three months, making it lightly coloured, moist and tangy; it melts extremely well. Curado manchego is aged for six months, is acidic but develops a smooth almost caramel flavour. Viejo manchego is aged for a year or longer and becomes a very crumbly cheese with a sweeter taste and a butterscotch colour.
Produced in La Mancha, manchego is a perfect cheese for cooking Spanish cuisine. Unfortunately, I am no where near Spain, so it was a little difficult to get my hands on young manchego, kind of like the Raspberry Ale BellaVitano cheese, but that’s another story…
Capsicum and Corn Empanadas with Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Hot Manchego Dip
Ingredients for the Empanadas
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 170g unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 12 pieces)
- 1 egg
- 4-5 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (halved)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 1 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 1 red capsicum (sliced into thin strips)
- 2 corn cobs
- 100g Manchego cheese* (grated)
- ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
- ½ teaspoon of sweet or smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
Ingredients for the Hot Manchego Dip
- 200g Manchego cheese* (grated)
- 2 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
- 1 small red onion (unpeeled, cut into quarters)
- 4 firm-ripe red tomatoes
- 1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce
- ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (roughly chopped)
- 1 lime (juiced)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt to season
Method for the Empanadas
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
- Add the butter, egg and water until a clumpy dough forms.
- Form a ball, flatten slightly, and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the capsicum strips on a baking tray, drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and thyme and bake for 15 minutes, tossing once half way through.
- Place the unhusked corn cobs on another baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife.
- Preheat the remaining oil in a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
- Add the roasted capsicum strips, corn kernels and manchego cheese, stirring to combine. Take the pan off the heat once the cheese begins to melt.
- Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round moulds or a small plate).
- To assemble the empanadas, place a spoonful of the capsicum-cheese filling on the middle of each empanada disc. (The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. Also, the more you make empanadas, the easier it becomes to stuff them to the max and still seal them properly.)
- To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. (If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can use brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges.)
- Refrigerating the finished empanadas for at least 30 minutes before baking as this helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
- Brush the empanadas with an egg wash and bake for 18 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the empanadas, or until golden brown.
Method for the Hot Manchego Dip
- Preheat oven to 180°C
- Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat but do not add any oil.
- Add the garlic, onion, and tomato (all with their skins) in pan and roast, turning, as needed, with tongs, until blistered and charred all over.
- Let vegetables cool slightly, then peel off skins.
- In a blender, combine vegetables with chipotle chile and cilantro leaves. Whirl until coarsely pureed and empty into a mixing bowl.
- Squeeze lime juice into salsa, then stir in oil. Taste and season with salt if needed.
- Add the shredded manchego cheese and stir to combine with the salsa.
- Pour the cheesy salsa into a large ovenproof serving dish or individual ramekins and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the cheese has melted. Serve immediately.
* A young or a Curado Manchego is recommended for the Hot Manchego Dip, but an aged Manchego works very well for the empanada filling.