Cuban Medianoche Empanadas

Cuban Medianoche Empanadas
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“Inspired by my Cuban-Dominican grandmother, Livia, I’ve been making empanadas for years. She makes hers with a ground beef mixture, known as picadillo, and then fries the little babies up in oil. To lighten up her recipe, remix these by filling them with citrus-braised pork (a nod to the Cubano sandwich) and bake them. You still get a flaky, delicious crust, but you don’t get all the grease and heaviness that comes with frying.” — Angie Martinez, co-author of Healthy Latin Eating, Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed 
Cuban Medianoche Empanadas
  • 3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup water
  • 6 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 2½-pound bone-in pork shoulder, trimmed of most visible fat
  • 1½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1½ tablespoon ground cilantro
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1½ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
  • 1½ fresh or dried bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1½ sprigs fresh oregano
  • ½ tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
  1. To make the empanada dough, mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl until it forms a firm ball. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Form the dough into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, or up to 2 days. When wrapped well, this dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
  2. When you’re ready to make the pork filling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Rub the pork with the cumin, cilantro, and 1½ tablespoons each of salt and pepper.Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, brown the pork on all the sides, about 3 minutes per side.Add the chicken stock, vinegar, coarsely chopped onion, garlic, orange and lime juices, bay leaves, thyme, and oregano. Cover the pot and place in the oven to braise for 1 to 2 hours, until the meat easily comes off the bone.
  4. Remove the pork from the oven and let cool. Shred the cooled pork into small pieces and place in a bowl.
  5. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and transfer to a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, cook the liquid until it’s reduced down to one third. Whisk in the mustard and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the shredded pork and let rest for at least 2 hours before folding in the finely chopped onion, cilantro, and olive oil.
  6. When you’re ready to assemble and bake the empanadas, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 sheet trays with nonstick cooking spray.
  7. Remove the bay leaves and thyme and rosemary sprigs from the pork. Fill a small bowl with water and place it nearby.
  8. Roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut 14 circles using a 3½-inch, round biscuit cutter. Place about 1 tablespoon of the pork filling near the center of a round of dough. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and dab around the edges of the dough. Fold the dough in half over the filling, pressing the edges together. Crimp the edges and poke the tops a few times with the tines of a fork. Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes.