Jack O’ Lantern Butternut Squash Empanadas

Spider Paige Kelly made these delicious butternut squash empanadas for the October potluck, appropriately shaped as Jack-O’-Lanterns!

Empanada Dough

Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1–1 ½ teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 2–3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 12 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
  • ¾–1 cup water
  • 2 egg yolks

Directions

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and the sugar.
  2. Blend the butter and shortening (or lard) into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or with two knives, until fairly well blended.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cups water. Stir in the 1/2 cup of the water/egg mixture, a little bit at a time, until the dough starts to come together smoothly. Keep kneading the dough, adding more of the water/egg mixture as needed (you may need a few tablespoons extra of water), until the dough is smooth. The dough will seem a bit shaggy until it has thoroughly chilled.  Taste for salt and add more if needed.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour. (The dough can also be kept for 1-2 days in the refrigerator).  When ready to use, the dough should be soft and smooth, and not elastic – if you poke a hole in the dough with your finger, the indentation should remain.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and roll into desired thickness before cutting. Makes enough dough for 10-12 large empanadas.

Empanada Filling

Ingredients

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1–2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup queso fresco cheese (salted), or 6 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 egg yolk

Directions

  1. Prepare empanada dough, wrap it in plastic wrap, and set aside to rest for at least 1/2 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Peel the butternut squash and remove fibrous parts and seeds (you can toast the seeds with some butter, in the oven until golden brown, if desired). Cut squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Peel sweet potato and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Peel and slice onion into thin ribbon slices.
  4. Toss vegetables with olive oil and brown sugar and season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables onto a baking pan and dot with pieces of the butter. Roast vegetables in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Shape empanadas: Divide the dough into 10 pieces for large empanadas or into 16 pieces for smaller empanadas. On a floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a disk, about 1/4 inch thick. Set disks aside to rest.
  6. Crumble the queso fresco cheese and stir it into the roasted vegetables along with the golden raisins.
  7. Place one disk of dough on the counter and place about 1/3 cup of filling in the middle (for large empanadas, less for small). Spread the filling out into a flat circle, keeping clear a 1/2 inch edge of dough all the way around. Dip your finger in water and moisten the edge of dough all the way around.
  8. Place another disk on the counter and using a sharp knife, carefully cut out the eyes, mouth and nose of the jack-‘0-lantern as desired. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to make some grooves in the dough, simulating the natural indentation lines of a real pumpkin. Place this disk on top of the filling, and press edges together to seal. Fold edges under slightly, keeping the circle shape. Repeat with the remaining disks of dough.
  9. Make an egg wash: mix egg yolk with 1-2 tablespoons water. Place empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake at 375-400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. Brush them with the egg wash.
  10. Bake empanadas until they are puffed and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Let empanadas cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving.

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