Chicken katsu empanadas are so moreish both hot and cold, you’ll wonder why you’ve never thought to put a curry in pastry before!

I recently heard that Greggs had started doing a chicken katsu bake, and my immediate reaction was ‘ah the wife will love that’. Coz, like, she loves my chicken katsu. But as I deliberated a little longer, it got me thinking about whether this was a genuine improvement, or if it was a case of sticking one thing inside another to be different.

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Chicken Katsu Empanadas

My gut instinct said it was the latter. Even if they were a treat, the addition of pastry was just a gimmick, as katsu is a standout dish on its own – the pastry just makes it easier to carry when on the go (a LOT easier, admittedly). Was being able to nosh a katsu on the go that much of a draw?

I pondered some more! Is there anything wrong with a gimmick? Even if it is short lived, as long as it is delicious, and makes food more interesting, then gimmicky can be great. But it can also be a total shambles (We Want Plates demonstrates when gimmicky turns into stupidity, albeit hilariously).

So back on point – what else can we throw a good katsu curry into for added fun and flare? Do we include the rice? Do we do a saucy curry or get something drier and with more rigidity that was less likely to leak? Served hot is a given, but served cold as well? It all sounds pretty good fun finding out!

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I’ve settled on empanadas as my roll of the dice. The harder pastry will keep better in the fridge, and may even reheat successfully (puff and other types of pastry often go flabby). Plus they’re as easy as pie to make (pun intended).

I’ve not tried the Greggs version on purpose, and I doubt I will either. Much of their wares are hit and miss, and I love my own chicken katsu empanadas too much to ruin my ideas with whatever they’ve done! Plus why store-buy what you can make yourself excellently anyway?

But it still raises a very good question – what other stuff can we throw into stuff to make it great fun stuff??

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Chicken Katsu Empanadas

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 empanadas, depending on size

Ingredients

For the pastry:

  • 350 g Plain flour
  • Pinch Salt
  • 100 g Lard or butter brought up to room temperature
  • 2 Large eggs beaten separately
  • 1 Tbsp White vinegar
  • 80 ml Ice water

For the curry sauce:

  • 2 Tbsps Ghee or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium Onions finely diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 2 Tbsp Curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp Flour
  • 300 ml Chicken stock

For the breaded chicken:

  • 1 slices large Chicken breast cut into 1/2cm thick
  • 200 g Plain flour
  • 3 large eggs well beaten and mixed with a pinch of salt
  • 200 g Breadcrumbs

Instructions

Pastry:

  1. 'Cut' the lard or butter into the flour + salt by squeezing it together in your fingers. Continue doing this until no large lumps remain, and the mixture resembles sand
  2. Add in one of the beaten eggs, white vinegar, and ice water and mix until everything is brought together
  3. Knead for a few minutes until smooth, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour

Curry sauce:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee or oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, then fry the onions and ginger until very soft, but not browned (approx. 5-8 minutes)
  2. Add the garlic and fry for a further 30 seconds - 1 minute until the brash, raw smell of garlic subsides
  3. Stir the curry powder into the pan with the onions and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add another 1/2 tablespoon of ghee, then stir in the flour. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes
  5. Very slowly add the chicken stock, tiny bit by tiny bit, until it is incorporated fully each time. This prevents lumps forming
  6. Simmer the sauce until it is a little thicker than you would usually like for your curry sauce. Allow to cool completely
  7. Blend or food process the sauce until it is smooth. Set aside until ready to use

Breaded chicken:

  1. Place the sliced chicken one by one into the flour to fully coat
  2. Dust off any excess flour, then place into the egg until fully coated
  3. Finish by coating with the breadcrumbs, ensuring no gaps are left. Continue for all the chicken slices
  4. Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer to 190C, then fry the chicken in small batches until crisp and golden, and cooked right through (approx. 3-4 minutes unless particularly thick)
  5. Keep to one side to cool completely, then slice up into very small 1/2cm - 1cm pieces

Empanadas:

  1. Heat the oven to 200/400/gas 6
  2. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until roughly 1-2mm thick (not too thin)
  3. Use a bowl to cut large circles into the pastry - the size of the circle depends on how big you want the empanadas
  4. Place some chopped breaded chicken in the middle, add a few teaspoons of curry sauce, then brush the edges with the second beaten egg
  5. Fold over the top of the pastry to complete the empanadas, and squeeze round the edges to seal. Continue until the rest of the pastry is used up
  6. Brush some more beaten egg over the top of the empanadas, then bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is well browned and crisp

Recipe Notes

Use the left over curry sauce for dipping!

Empanada dough recipe adapted from Epicurious.

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Why do we do the breadcrumbing in this order? How does breadcrumbing work?

Why does the pastry have vinegar in? I believe that the acid within the vinegar prevents the pastry from forming too many gluten bonds, which results in a flaky pastry that is much more tender.  We don’t taste the vinegar as we’re only using a small amount, plus the cooking process gets rid of the acidity.

I’d be very interested in substituting the vinegar for different acids like lemon juice or citric acid powder. I’d also like to see how much more tender the pastry is compared to one cooked without any added acid.

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Why do we refrigerate the pastry? This is to keep the fat cold – the hotter it gets, the more difficult it is to handle as everything gets very soft. It also helps the pastry keep its shape when it cooks.

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