Turkey Empanadillas (Empanadillas de Pavo)

The day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of leftover turkey dishes. From pot pies and turkey sandwiches to turkey soup – by the end of this weekend we will have had our fill of roasted turkey for the year.
This recipe is my offering to this post-Thanksgiving tradition of leftover turkey preparation: turkey empanadillas (empanadillas de pavo). It’s a savory Latin dish that gives turkey leftovers a Puerto Rican twist. Turkey empanadillas are half moon pastry pockets that are stuffed with a savory filling of shredded turkey, olives, raisins and cilantro. Unlike their fried cousins traditionally sold in cuchifrito stands around the island, these pastry pockets are baked.
Making the empanadilla pastry from scratch yields the best results, but if you are as tired as I am after days of preparation and cooking for the Thanksgiving feast, then use frozen empanadilla pastry disks from your local grocer.
If you like this empanadilla recipe, you may also like baked beef empanadillas.
Turkey Empanadillas (Empanadillas de Pavo)
2 cups cooked turkey meat, shredded
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup turkey broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 packet Sazón annatto seasoning
1/4 cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
1/4 cup chopped raisins
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
salt to taste
12 empanadilla pastry disks, thawed (pre-made or homemade)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a medium heavy skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, then add the onion and cook until they begin getting glassy. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant. Do not allow them to brown.
3. Add the cumin and allspice and stir until well incorporated. Add the tomato sauce, broth, annatto seasoning and raisins and bring to a simmer. Add the shredded turkey and continue cooking until all the liquids have been incorporated into the mixture. Turn the heat off and add the olives, cilantro and season to taste. Set aside to cool.
4. Prepare your work surface to assemble the empanadillas by having the following handy: empanadilla pastry disks, baking sheet, fork, bowl of water, and the cooled filling.
5. Place a disk on your work surface and add 2 to 3 tablespoons filling. Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle. Crimp the edge with a fork, turn over and crimp the edges with a fork again. Set the empanadilla in the cookie sheet and repeat.
6. Brush the empanadillas with oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Makes 12 empanadillas.

Chicken Escabeche

Chicken Escabeche Appetizer Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
If you are planning a Three Kings Day party to mark the end of the holiday season, try this savory appetizer. Chicken escabeche (pollo en escabeche) is delicious, easy to make and can be prepared days ahead of a party.
Escabeche refers to a marinade of fragrant olive oil, vinegar (or citrus), onions, garlic, black peppercorns and bay leaves. It originates from Spain and can be found throughout Latin America. There are many different applications of the escabeche marinade. You can use escabeche to poach fish, seafood or chicken for juicy entrées. Another application is to add the prepared escabeche marinade to cooked starchy vegetables like yuca and green bananas to make a savory side dish like yuca escabeche (yuca en escabeche) or green banana escabeche (guineos verdes en escabeche – a personal favorite). Most escabeche recipes are best served after marinading for a day and served at room temperature.
The recipe I share with you today is for a chicken escabeche appetizer. You will poach chicken breasts in the escabeche marinade, then shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces to serve on crackers. It’s a perfect party appetizer as you can prepare it a day or two ahead. Serve the escabeche at room temperature with a simple cracker. My favorite cracker to serve it with is the most humble saltine cracker. It’s also great with matzos or cracked wheat crackers. Try it, your guests will love chicken escabeche.

Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Chicken Escabeche Appetizer (Pollo en Escabeche)
2 boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 large onions, sliced across into thin rounds
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1. Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until it simmers. Add the chicken, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt. Top with the sliced onions, garlic and white vinegar. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove the chicken breasts and cook the escabeche marinade in low heat until the onions are clear (don’t allow the onions to caramelize). Use two forks to shred the chicken into bite size pieces and return the shredded chicken to the escabeche marinade.
3. Transfer the chicken escabeche to a glass container and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Serve at room temperature with your choice of crackers.
Makes 4 cups of escabeche.

Herbed Buckwheat Stuffed Chicken

Herbed Buckwheat Stuffed Chicken Recipe
Plate by Scott Bartolomei Edmonds. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Personal chef and colleague, Peter, is probably up late tonight making a gorgeous thousand layered crêpe cake. He saw the cake in the latest Dean and Deluca catalog and, despite the fact that he is halfway through his fruit-only detox, he will be making this cake tonight.
I have to thank Peter for inspiring me to make this dish. When I told him I had some leftover buckwheat to experiment with, he suggested I make a stuffed chicken breast. “It’s easy!” he said. I was skeptical about how easy it would really be, but his enthusiasm inspired me to try it anyway.
To make the stuffing I started with day-old cooked buckwheat groats (also known as kasha). To that, I added some onions, finely diced carrots, roasted almonds, fresh thyme, fresh Italian parsley and some finely chopped orange rind. Then, I sliced the chicken breasts, stuffed them, and browned them in a skillet. These were finished in the oven in a parchment paper pouch with oranges and wine.
As complicated as stuffed chicken sounds, I have to say it is a moderately easy meal to make. I encourage you to try it. Give yourself about 45 minutes to prepare it. It’s also a good idea to cook the buckwheat groats the day before. Fresh cooked buckwheat tends to be on the delicate side and you risk mushy stuffing if using it straight from the pot.
Herbed Buckwheat Stuffed Citrus Chicken
1 1/2 cup cooked buckwheat groats (kasha)
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1/4 cup toasted almonds
2 teaspoons thyme, stems removed plus 4 sprigs
1/2 teaspoon orange rind
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons Canola oil
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless
1 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1. Melt butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat and add onion, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrot, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in cooked buckwheat, almond, orange rind and thyme to warm. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a 15″ long sheet of parchment paper in a 9″ x 13″ roasting pan to create a shallow bowl. Set aside along with a second 15″ sheet of parchment paper and some kitchen string.
3. Pat chicken dry and arrange, skinned sides down, on a work surface. Cut a pocket in each breast by slicing the breast horizontally, stopping about 1 inch from opposite end. Open the breast to create a pocket. Pack one quarter of the stuffing into each pocket. Use a toothpick to seal the opening.
4. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat. Brown chicken in 2 batches, about 2 minutes on each side, transferring to the parchment paper in the small roasting pan as browned.
5. Add the wine and arrange orange slices and a thyme sprig on each chicken breast. Place the second sheet of parchment paper over the chicken and fold the long edges of parchment paper together to seal the sides. Gather a short end and tie with kitchen string, repeat with the other end. Make sure that the juices will not seep through the seams in your parchment pouch. Place chicken in the middle of the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
6. Let chicken stand for 5 minutes in the pouch, then carefully open the pouch and remove each breast. Slice and serve.
Makes 4 servings.

Adobo Chicken, a.k.a. Pollochón

Pollochon - Puerto Rican Adobo Roasted Chicken Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Being born Puerto Rican means that I was born with an innate need to supercook meats until they are hard and dry. Us Puerto Ricans love to bite into an almost jerky-like pork chop. So, when you ask us to try a medium steak, a salmon tartare or sushi, we will probably look at you like you’ve just offered us live insects. Learning to enjoy a steak that is pink in the center, fish that is raw or chicken that is juicy is something I’m still learning about. At first I started trying these things with an almost irrational hesitation and now I am learning how to cook them with great willingness, thanks primarily to having enjoyed so many delightful meals here in the city. I now order my steaks medium or medium-well and about two years ago, I even indulged in raw oysters and have loved them since. Don’t get me wrong, I still love pork chops cooked to a dry crisp like my grandma Mima makes them, but I am making an effort to pay more attention to meat preparation.
Last week I made a roasted chicken with an adobo garlic-oregano seasoning that is traditional to my island. The result was a juicy, moist and flavor infused chicken. In Puerto Rico a roasted chicken seasoned with adobo is often called pollochón. Why this funny name? Take a chicken (pollo) prepared like roasted pork (lechón) and you have pollo+chón.
This meal will take some thinking ahead, but overall it’s a very low-maintenance dish to prepare. You will simply season the chicken (marinade time optional), place it in a hot oven, and then check for doneness in an hour. There is very little work involved with the exception of carving the chicken. For easy instructions on how to carve a chicken, watch Marc Murphy’s How to Carve a Chicken Howcast video. For a more rich and intense flavor, I suggest seasoning the chicken with adobo up to six hours before cooking to allow the flavors to develop. The results are a succulent, juicy and flavorful roasted chicken.
Note: Check out my grandfather Pito’s version of adobo in this pernil (roasted pork shoulder) recipe.
1/4 cup fresh Adobo
1 3-pound Whole Chicken, raised right
Salt and Pepper
1. Rinse the chicken and dry it very well with paper towels, inside and out. Using your hands, gently separate the skin from the chicken, while leaving the skin intact. Introduce the adobo (in small handfuls) under the skin, distributing along the breasts thigh and leg to evenly cover the chicken. Do not apply the adobo to the surface of the skin as the garlic will burn loosing its flavor while roasting. Salt and pepper the cavity. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinade up to 6 hours (marinade time is optional).
2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Truss the bird by tucking the tip section of the wing under the top section of the wing and tying the legs with string.
3. Generously salt the chicken and season to taste with pepper.
4. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 50 to 60 minutes until done. When done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
5. Remove the twine, cut the chicken and serve.
Makes 4 servings.

Adobo Seasoning

Puerto Rican Adobo Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Adobo is the secret behind all flavorful Puerto Rican meat dishes. The seasoning is simple, consisting of garlic, oregano, cumin, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. It’s deeply rich and great on meats, particularly as a marinade for roasted meats like chicken and pork.
I like my adobo made fresh with a wooden mortar and pestle like my grandmother Mima taught me when I was a child. Add salt to the garlic to prevent the garlic from flying out of the mortar as you pound it into a paste. You can also wrap your free hand around the opening to keep the garlic down. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can either chop the ingredients or place them in a food processor or blender to a paste consistency.
Note: Check out Adobo Chicken and Pernil for recipes using adobo.
6 – 8 large garlic cloves (about 1/2 a head), peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1 sprig fresh oregano, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
a pinch of ground black pepper (optional)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1. Place peeled garlic cloves and salt in the mortar and pestle. Pound to a smooth paste. Add oregano, black pepper, olive oil and vinegar and stir to incorporate.
Makes 1/4 cup.

Coq au Vin

Drank a bottle of Pinot Noir tonight and proceeded to make coq au vin. I was ispired by Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode “Cuckoo about Coq au Vin” last week. It sounded like the perfect meal for these cold winter days here in New York City. I did a little research and found a few more recipes for Coq au Vin. The Guardian article by Nigel Slater “Perfect Coq au Vin” provided much of the inspiration for this recipe. He says “I love a recipe that really works, where you feel there is something unequivocally right about it. Where the cook has remained true to the dish, to its provenance, its history, its soul.” I couldn’t agree more. This dish speaks of tradition, confort and soul: down to earth and heart warming.
A note about this recipe: I strongly recommend that you follow Alton Brown’s advise to refrigerate this dish overnight before serving. The flavor is noticeably better the next day. You can either prepare the whole recipe and simply warm the next day or prepare to step 6, add the chicken to the wine sauce, cover and refrigerate overnight and begin at step 7 by warming the contents, removing the chicken and proceeding to thicken the sauce.
Coq Au Vin
1 stewing chicken, cut into pieces (or approx 6 lbs. of boned chicken pieces)
3/4 cups pancetta or 1/2 cup salt pork
2 medium onions
1 large carrot
2 ribs of celery
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cognac
1 bottle of red wine
4 or 5 small sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
1/3 cup butter
24 to 30 pearl onions, peeled
1/2 pound small mushrooms
2 cups chicken stock
1. Cut the pancetta or salt pork into short strips. Cook over medium heat in a large heavy casserole (cast iron or enamelled work best), stirring occassionally until golden. Remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside, leaving behind the fat in the pan.
2. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the hot fat in the casserole. Brown the chicken on all sides until golden brown. (Note from Mr. Slater: “The skin should be honey coloured rather than brown – it is this colouring of the skin, rather than what wine or herbs you might add later, that is crucial to the flavour of the dish.”) Remove the cooked chicken and set aside.
3. While the chicken is colouring in the pan, peel and roughly chop the onions and carrot, and wash and chop the celery. With the chicken out, add the onions and carrot to the pan and cook slowly, stirring from time to time, until the onion is translucent and it has gone some way to dissolving some of the pan stickings. Add the garlic, peeled and thinly sliced, as you go. Return the chicken and pancetta to the pan, stir in the flour and let everything cook for a minute or two before pouring in the cognac, wine and tucking in the herbs. Spoon in ladles of the simmering chicken stock until the entire chicken is covered. Bring to the boil, then, just as it gets there, turn the heat down so that the sauce bubbles gently. Cover partially with a lid.
4. Melt the butter in a medium pan, add the small peeled onions and then the mushrooms, halving or quartering them if they are too big. Let them cook until they are golden, remove from pan and set them aside.
5. Check the chicken after 40 minutes to see how tender it is. It should be soft but not falling from its bones. It will probably take about an hour, depending on the type of chicken you are using. Lift the chicken out and into a bowl.
6. Strain the sauce and remove the vegetables.
7. Return the sauce to the pot and turn the heat up under the sauce and let it bubble enthusiastically until it has reduced a little. As it bubbles down it will become thicker – though not thick – and will become quite glossy.
8. Return the chicken to the pan along with the mushroom and onions. Serve with noodles or boiled potatoes.
Makes 6 servings.

Thanksgiving Duck with Cranberry Sauce

Unlike the all-day marathon that Thanksgiving dinner usually is, our feast was simple and delightful: Duck with Cranberry Sauce, truffled mashed potatoes, green beans and popovers. Check out Gordon Ramsay’s demonstration of the Duck with Gooseberry Sauce. Brilliant approach: simple, passionate, to the point. Yes! Gooseberries are not in season this time of year, so we used cranberries instead.
Duck with Cranberry Sauce
4 duck breasts with skin on
2 tablespoons Szechwan peppercorns
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cups (about half a bottle) dry red wine
1 1/4 cups brown chicken stock
1-2 tablespoons honey
2 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Score the skin of the duck breasts in a criss-cross pattern. Toast the Szechwan peppercorns in a dry pan until fragrant, then tip into a pestle and mortar with a little salt and pepper. Lightly crush the mixture and use to generously coat the duck breasts.
2. Place the duck breasts, skin-side down, on a dry ovenproof pan and cook on the stovetop over very low heat to render down most of the fat. This may take 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fat.
3. Place the sugar in a small saucepan with a cup of water. Gently heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon zest and mix through. Increase the heat and boil the liquid for a few minutes until slightly thickened. Tip in the cranberries and gently poach for 1 minute. Leave to cool in the syrup.
4. For the sauce, place the red wine in a pan, season with a little salt and pepper, and boil for 7-8 minutes until reduced by half. Pour in the stock and reduce again by half.
5. Drain off most of the fat from the duck, then turn up the heat fry until the skin is crisp. Add a touch of olive oil, turn them over and cook the flesh side for 1-2 minutes. Place the pan into the hot oven for 8-10 minutes for medium-cooked duck, which should be slightly springy when pressed.
6. Stir the honey into the sauce. Take the pan off the heat and add a few knobs of butter for shine, swirling the liquid to melt the butter. Transfer the cranberries to the sauce to warm through, adding the syrup according to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
7. When ready, rest the duck on a warm plate for a few minutes. Slice the duck breasts thickly on the diagonal and fan out. Spoon over the sauce and serve.
Makes 4 servings.