These delicious empanas from the Andean region, or highlands of Ecuador, are very light.
The name comes from their delicateness and the way they puff with the air when they are being fried.
They can be made either in cocktail size or appetizer size.
In some places they are also sold in giant size, which are very popular among the middle and worker class.
They are a must when preparing a meal around fritada (fried chunks of pork), or with fanesca (vegetable chowder made in Easter time).
You can buy them around the country from food stalls, at the road, on the markets or in the restaurants.
During religious holidays, women from the countryside fry these empanas and sell them in front of Ecuador’s many churches.
And they are indeed puffy and light, just like the wind.
EMPANADAS DE VIENTO
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
¼ cup lard, vegetable shortening, or unsalted butter
¼ cup water mixed with 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
4 ounces of Chihuahua, Muenster or Parmesan cheese, shredded
¼ cup minced scallions (white part and 1 inch of the green)
½ teaspoon ground annatto (or red sweet paprika to give a bit of color)
Oil for frying
Sugar (optional) for sprinkling
1. To make the dough, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Add the lard and blend together with your fingers to make a coarse meal.
3. Add the lemon water and mix well; adding a little more water if needed to make soft dough.
4. Knead until smooth and eleastic.
5. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl.
Making the empanadas
1. Divide the dough into 8 or 24 equal-size pieces.
2. Roll the pieces into balls and cover with towel.
3. On a lightly floured board, roll each ball into a thin round.
4. Put 1 heaping tablespoon of filling in the center for large empanadas and 1 teaspoon for small.
5. Lightly moisten half of the edge with water, fold in half, pressing firmly to seal the edges and crimp with a fork.
6. Place the empanadas on a lightly floured tray and cover with a kitchen towel. They can be assembled a couple of hours before frying and left at room temperature.
Frying the empanadas
1. In a frying pan, heat ½ inch of the oil to 350 °F.
2. Fry a few empanadas at a time, carefully swishing the oil back and forth with a large spoon so that they puff up.
3. Cook for a few minutes, until they are golden on both sides.
4. Remove with a slotted spoon to a platter lined with paper towels.