Friends are coming over for game night and I need some tasty finger foods that are not the same dishes I usually prepare, one of which is jalapeño poppers. It’s not that we don’t enjoy poppers, because we love them, but sometimes we get too many poppers left over. It happens.
So, to get around this, I decided to take my popper ingredients and stuff them into a mini jalapeño empanada. This cheese, bacon and roasted jalapeño filling works really well with this quick-frying masa harina corn dough.
In a bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients for the masa. Mix the olive oil in with the hot water. Gradually mix in the water to the dry ingredients until masa forms into a smooth ball. If it’s too sticky, sprinkle in a little more masa harina in.
Divide masa into 24 small equal masa balls. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
For the Filling
In a skillet, cook the bacon at medium heat until crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and let cool. Dice or crumbly small once cooled.
Roast the jalapeños in a nonstick pan at medium heat for about 20 to 25 minutes. Turn as needed, charring in some spots. You can also char them on the direct flame. Set aside and let them cool. Once cooled, remove the stems and seeds and dice finely.
In a bowl combine the cooked bacon, jalapeno, cheese, flour, garlic, pepper, oregano and green onions. The flour will keep the cheese from becoming too sticky. Fold to combine, set aside.
For the Chipotle Crema
In a mini chopper or blender, combine all of the ingredients for the chipotle crema. Blend until smooth, taste for salt and set aside.
For the Poppers
Using a tortilla press lined with plastic, press each masa ball gently into a 3 disk. Fill one side with about 1 tablespoon of popper/cheese filling. Using the plastic liner, fold over like a taco and seal the edges. Remove from plastic and mold the edges until slightly smoother and sealed completely. Repeat until all empanadas are filled. Keep them loosely covered with plastic or wax paper.
In a small, deep saucepan, preheat 2 cups of canola oil to medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. When hot, fry 2 empanadas at the same time for 4 to 5 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. If they brown too quickly, reduce the heat slightly. Transfer cooked empanadas to a plate lined with paper towels.
Serve right away with your favorite salsas and crema or keep them warm in a low-temperature oven until ready to serve.
If you don’t need 24 mini empanadas, you could prepare 12 larger ones. They will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Reheat in a dry nonstick pan at medium heat.