Nontraditional Chicken Empanadas with Heirloom Tomato Ranchero

Maggie May Schill


I had gotten a craving for Mexican recently. I must of had Mexican food in some form six times in the past two weeks. So much so I've devoted myself to researching, testing and creating my own ranchero sauce...and lovely tid-bits to smother in my ranchero. I had had an Empanada recently, and thought of how cool it would be to make Empanadas! I decided to diverge from the traditional Empanada dough and went with puff-pastry. I thought the flakiness would really help my ranchero sauce shine.

An issue of Tomatoes: Florida in general in my experience has lack luster tomatoes. They tend to lack flavor and are watery. I decided in this instance to skip over the orange bloated genetic freaks everyone down here calls a tomato, and opted for organic heirloom tomatoes.(also known as ugly tomatoes.) These red heirlooms are sweet and earthy! Absolutely some of the best tomatoes I've had in a long time. I also added a yellow tomato for a cut of acid.


★★★★★ 2 votes

45 Min
40 Min



  • 1/2 lb
    cooked chicken
  • 3 Tbsp
    chicken broth
  • 1/2 c
    cilantro, fresh chopped
  • 1 c
    red onion, diced
  • 3 clove
    garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp
    vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp
    ground cumin
  • 1/2 c
    black beans, cooked
  • ·
    equal portions of monetary jack cheese, queso cheese, asadero cheese, colby, and mild cheddar: equalling 3 cups
  • ·
    salt and pepper to taste

  • ·
    puff pastry (ask your local baker for dough, or make it yourelf with your favorite recipe...i asked my local baker for dough.)

  • 3
    red heirloom tomatoes, medium
  • 1
    yellow tomato, small
  • 2 c
    red onion, diced
  • 2 c
    cilantro, fresh chopped
  • 4 clove
    garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c
    chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp
  • 1 1/2 tsp
    chilli powder
  • 3 1/2 tsp
    ground cumin
  • 1
    jalapeno, diced, seeded and rib removed
  • 2 Tbsp
    salted butter
  • 1 Tbsp
    lime juice
  • 1 tsp
    smoked paprika
  • ·
    salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

How to Make Nontraditional Chicken Empanadas with Heirloom Tomato Ranchero


  1. Preparation for Filling:

    1-Heat vegetable oil in a sauce pan, let smoke.

    2- Add garlic to oil and saute' until tender, add onions and continue to saute' until translucent.

    3-Add cilantro to the pan stir for 30 seconds

    4- Add cumin, salt and pepper, stir.

    5-Add black beans to pan, stir gently so you don't mash the beans.

    6-Add chicken broth and chicken and simmer covered for 2 minutes.

    7- Remove garlic cloves from pan

    8- Remove pan from heat and transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl, let cool and toss with cheese.

    9- Put in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

    --Do not wash out the sauce pan, you will be deglazing the pan to create your ranchero sauce--
  2. Heirloom Tomato Ranchero Sauce:

    1-In same pan you used to make filling, deglaze the pan with butter.

    2-Add garlic and onions. Sweat them.

    3Add jalapeno, saute' for 10 minutes covered.

    4-Add tomatoes with salt(salt is to draw liquid from tomatoes), cook covered for 30 minutes. Then add broth.

    5-Add cilantro and stir for 30 seconds. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

    6-Add paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, chilli, lime juice and cumin.

    7- Blend mixture well with immersion blender until smooth. (or transfer to standard blender.)

    Taste and adjust cayenne and chilli powder. Adjust to the heat you prefer. I like just a bite in my ranchero, but some like it really spicy! Also considering leaving the seed and ribs of the Jalapeno in the ranchero, it will add heat.
  3. Assembly:

    1-Preheat oven to 350'F

    2-Flour a clean counter or board and lay out puff pastry dough.

    3-cut dough into 6 inch squares

    4-spoon 2 tablespoons of filling into pastry.
    wet fingers and moisten edges of pastry squares and fold over. Use a fork to press dough close.

    5-bake for approx 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

    6-Let rest for 10 minutes (inside of pies are molten hot!!!!)

    7-Serve smothered, or over ranchero sauce.

    Hubby loved it!!! <3

Printable Recipe Card

About Nontraditional Chicken Empanadas with Heirloom Tomato Ranchero

Course/Dish: Chicken, Other Sauces
Main Ingredient: Chicken
Regional Style: Southwestern

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