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Authentic Chiapas Pork Empanadas

This recipe comes from Chiapas, a Mexican state. Chiapas cuisine is a mixture between indigenous and European influences, similar to most Mexican cuisine, but Chiapas food retains a lot of its indigenous heritage, including the use of the chipilín herb and hoja santa in local soups and tamales. Chiapas cuisine does not use as many chilies as in other provinces though. In fact, locals prefer sweet food to the spicy alternatives. A lot of the state is suitable for raising cattle, which is why beef is popular in this region, and plenty of cheese is produced.

There are plenty of tamale recipes from Chiapas, as well as the beef and dairy delicacies. Chiapas cuisine is not as well-known as, for example, Oaxacan cuisine (Oaxaca is right next door) but it is worth exploring. The following recipe shows you how to make empanadas in the typical Chiapas style. These are amazing served for lunch or even late supper, and you can use any leftover roast meat to make them. The dough is homemade and you can use pork lard for authentic results, or unsalted butter if you prefer. Grind the spices using a spice grinder, mortar or molcajete.

The dough for these empanadas is made with flour, butter, egg, water and salt, while the filling is made with pork, onion, tomatoes and spices. Despite making your own dough, these are incredibly simple to prepare, and it is well worth making them from scratch, the dough included. You can either use a food processor to make the dough or mix the ingredients by hand. Then you need to roll it out and you can freeze it for future use or fill it with the filling, as you prefer. The filling is similarly easy to prepare and you do not need many ingredients. Fill them and press them closed, perhaps using a fork, and then apply egg wash to ensure they come out of the oven golden brown.

These pork empanadas are delicious whether you serve them piping hot from the oven, warm, at room temperature, or even chilled. You might be curious about the optional step in the recipe about sprinkling sugar over them. This might sound strange if you usually make your meat pies without sprinkling sugar over them (which most of us north of the border do) but Chiapas cuisine is all about adding a touch of sweetness wherever possible, so go ahead and use the sugar if you want a totally traditional result and a touch of sweetness.

Traditional Chiapas Style Empanadas
Summary: Chiapas is a region in Mexico with its own particular style of Mexican cuisine. This recipe features homemade dough filled with an aromatically spiced pork mixture.
Cuisine: Mexican
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 8
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ sticks unsalted butter (or chilled pork lard), cut into 12 pieces
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • White sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
For the filling:
  • 1 lb cooked, shredded boneless pork
  • ½ chopped yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons corn oil or lard
  • 8 oz chopped tomatoes
  • 1 coarsely ground whole clove
  • 2 coarsely ground black peppercorns
  • 1 coarsely ground allspice berry
  • 1 beaten egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt, to taste
  1. First you will need to make the dough.
  2. Put the flour and salt in a food processor, then add the butter, water and egg and pulse until you have a coarse dough.
  3. If you prefer to make the dough by hand, use a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon instead.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and flatten it into a thick disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
  5. Roll it out and cut it into about 16 discs.
  6. You can now fill or freeze the discs.
  7. If you freeze them, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator before use.
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. To make the filling, heat the oil then sauté the onion until translucent.
  10. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, then add the meat and spices.
  11. Cook until piping hot.
  12. Divide the filling between the pastry discs.
  13. Brush the edges with water and press them closed.
  14. Brush some of the egg mixture over them.
  15. Bake for 20 minutes or until done.
  16. You can sprinkle a little white sugar over them if you like (this is very Chiapas style!)
  17. Serve them hot, warm or cold.

Photo Description:

These Chiapas style empanadas are really distinctive. First of all they make use of plenty of typical Chiapas spices, and then they are traditionally finished with some sugar sprinkled over them to contrast with the savory flavors. This is very Chiapas! If you want to make some typical south of the border empanadas but you want an unusual twist, then choose this recipe brought to you from the Mexican province of Chiapas, and find out how delicious this cuisine can be. The recipe is easy enough to make. You can even make your own empanada pastry in just a few minutes.

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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi, I'm Christine, and I'm pleased to welcome you to I have endeavored to gather as many delicious South of the border recipes here for you, including Mexican-inspired as well as traditional Mexican, and also some Tex-Mex and Mexican fusion dishes. Food is very important to our family's lives and Mexican food is certainly a favorite around here.

We have everything from appetizers and snacks to soups, drinks, entrées, and much more. You will find everything from mild dishes to super-spicy ones, simple recipes based on fresh ingredients up to more complex ones suitable for a dinner party.

Home cooks just starting out with Mexican cooking tend to be surprised how much of the emphasis is placed on using fresh ingredients and aromatic herbs and spices. Forget the typical ideas about Mexican food being all beans, cheese and beef (that applies a little more to Tex-Mex), take inspiration from authentic Mexican dishes based on fresh ingredients, and inject all your passion into cooking South of the border food, for perfect results every time.

Thanks for visiting,