These Latin American-style pasties may take a little time to prepare, but they are well worth the effort. The duck is slow cooked until falling off the bone, giving the filling its rich flavour and tender texture. These are great for feeding guests when hosting a festive party…
FOR THE FILLING
- 300g tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 50g pecan nuts
- 50g pitted dates
- 120ml fresh orange juice
- 480ml chicken stock
- 1 dried ancho chilli
- 1 dried habanero chilli
- 30g good quality dark chocolate, 70–80% cocoa solids
- 4 medium duck legs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE PASTRY
- 300g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- 1 tsp salt
- 60g unsalted butter
- 60g lard
- 2 egg yolks, plus 1 beaten egg to glaze
- 100ml chilled water
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
FOR THE SOURED CREAM DIP
- 300ml soured cream
- 1–2 tbsp chipotle chilli sauce
- To make the mole sauce, heat the grill to its highest setting. Line a baking tray with foil. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, peel and cut the onion into 6 wedges, and peel the garlic.
- Put the tomato quarters, garlic and onion wedges on the baking tray and roast under the grill until charred, turning as necessary until well browned on all sides. Set aside to cool. Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then add the pecans and stir until lightly toasted, for about 3 mins. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the dates to the pan and fry for about 1 min, until softened. Remove to the plate with the pecans and set aside.
- Working in batches, if necessary, put the charred tomatoes, garlic and onion, the pecans, dates, orange juice, chicken stock and both chillies in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Transfer the sauce back to the frying pan and heat gently. Break the chocolate into pieces and stir into the sauce.
- Place the duck legs in a lidded casserole and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the mole sauce, cover with the lid and cook in the oven for 2 hours. When the duck is cooked, the meat will be very tender and pull away easily from the bone.
- Meanwhile, to make the pastry, sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Cut the butter and lard into small pieces and add to the flour. Cut the fat into the flour, using 2 cutlery knives in a scissor action, then use your fingertips to gently rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Using a fork, mix the egg yolks, water and vinegar together in a small bowl until evenly combined. Start by adding half the liquid to the crumb and, using a cutlery knife, distribute the liquid evenly. Add more liquid to any dry areas of crumb until the flakes come together easily.
- Pull the pastry together with your hands, shaping it into a log about 8cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 mins.
- Transfer the cooked duck legs to a board to cool, then remove and discard the skin. Remove the meat from the bones and shred using 2 forks. Put the shredded meat into a bowl.
- Drain off the fat from the cooked mole sauce and add 6 tbsp of the sauce to the shredded duck; you should have a sticky, but not wet, mixture. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Set aside until ready to fill the empanadas.
- Cut the chilled pastry log into 10 equal rounds. Working with one disc at a time, roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a 12cm-diameter circle, using a cutter or a small plate as a guide.
- Spoon 2–3 tbsp of the duck filling in a line along the middle of the pastry circle, making sure you leave a 2cm clear border around the edge. Brush a little beaten egg around the edge of the pastry, then fold one side of the empanada over the top of the filling to meet the other edge of the pastry. Press the edges firmly together until you have a 1cm flat seal around the edge of the empanada. Decorate the edges using the prongs of a fork, pushing firmly around the seal to make the traditional striped pattern. Repeat until you have filled all the empanadas.
- Chill the empanadas in the fridge for 20–30 mins. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200C/gas 6.
- Just before cooking, brush the surface of the pastry with beaten egg and bake for 25–30 mins until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is piping hot.
- While the empanadas are cooking, mix together the soured cream and chipotle sauce, and spoon into a bowl to serve with the empanadas.
How to Cook Pastry from Leiths School of Food and Wine, published by Quadrille Publishing Limited