Empanadas de Rajas Con Crema

April  7, 2023
2 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 50 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • makes 10 empanadas
Author Notes

I love fresh, crispy corn empanadas. They are crunchy on the outside but still have a custardy corn center packed with lots of nutty Mexican corn flavor. You can fill the empanadas with almost anything—roasted meats, fish, or vegetables, rotisserie chicken and leftover salsas, or moles and guisos. They’re endlessly versatile. For this recipe, I made a comforting filling of charred poblanos and crema for velvety texture and slightly spicy flavor in every bite.
Rick Martinez

What You'll Need
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Empanadas de Rajas Con Crema
  • 1/2 pound (226 grams) fresh medium ground corn masa, or fine masa harina
  • Flaky sea salt, to taste
  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2/3 cup crema, crème fraîche, or sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • Pico de gallo, for serving
  • Queso fresco, crumbled, for serving
  1. Make the tortilla dough: If using fresh masa, In a large bowl, knead the masa, 1 teaspoon (4 grams) sea salt, and 2 tablespoons water with your hands until well incorporated and the mixture is soft and pliable (but doesn’t stick to your hands), about 4 minutes. If it’s still dry or crumbly or sticks to your hands, add 1 tablespoon or two more water and continue to mix. If using packaged masa harina, prepare according to package instructions. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the masa sit for 30 minutes to rest.
  2. Using a gas stove or grill on high heat, char poblanos directly over the flame, resting peppers on the grates, until charred on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Alternatively, arrange a rack directly under the broiler and heat to high. Char poblanos on a rimmed baking sheet under the broiler, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a large bowl, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let steam for 20 minutes. Carefully remove stems, skin, and seeds from each pepper (use gloves if you have them!). Cut into ½-inch-thick strips. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. Make the filling: Heat butter in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and 1½ teaspoons sea salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add poblano strips, milk, and crema, stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. Press the masa: Cut and remove the zip-top from a 1-gallon freezer bag. Cut the sides of the bag, so that you have two square pieces of plastic. If you’re using a tortilla press, trim the sides of the bag to fit the flat surface of the press. Divide the dough into 10 portions the size of ping-pong balls (about 50 grams each). Arrange on a sheet pan and keep covered with a damp kitchen towel while you press and fill the empanadas. Line a tortilla press with the cut plastic (or use a smooth, flat-bottomed skillet), and working with one ball at a time, press each portion of masa into about a 6 ½-inch round and remove the top sheet of plastic.
  5. Assemble the empanadas: Arrange about 3 tablespoons of rajas in a line down the center of the masa, leaving about ½ inch of space between the edge of the masa and the filling. Using the bottom piece of plastic to help you, fold the plastic in half so that the two sides of the masa close over the filling. Pinch the plastic where the edges of the masa come together to seal the empanada. Peel off the plastic and transfer empanada to a sheet tray. Repeat with remaining masa and filling.
  6. Fill a medium cast iron (or heavy skillet), with vegetable oil so that it comes up about ¾-inch up the sides, and heat on high until the oil reaches a temperature of 400°F. Working one at a time, use a metal spatula to help you lower an empanada into the hot oil. Spoon hot oil over the top of the empanada to seal the top side for about 15 seconds. Continue cooking until the empanada is golden brown and crispy, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack and repeat with the remaining empanadas. Top warm empanadas with a drizzle of crema and a sprinkle of queso. Serve with pico de gallo alongside.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

1 Review

Smaug April 9, 2023
I was happy to see this recipe; I'm a big fan oof savory hand pies, but most of the printed recipes call for a pastry crust similar to pie crust, that I don't really like for this purpose; I usually use a semi laminated bread dough for my own creations, Anyway, the dried masa is obviously going to weigh a lot more when hydrated, so the quantity given is kind of uncertain. I can figure it out for myself easily enough, but some guidance in the instructions would be helpful. Masa harina has evidently joined the current food price insanity (though I doubt much of it comes from Ukraine). I have found the common supermarket brand (Maseca) to be pretty bland; I have some yellow corn masa on order; at $12 a kilo one doesn't want to mess around.