Honey Tickled Chicken Empanadas

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Happy New Year!  This is the last time, I promise.  I realize that most of y'all exist in the real world but I am a student and classes just started so the year still feels new.  Let's hold on to that newness for a few more days ok? ok.

 yum city.

yum city.

Honey tickled chicken probably doesn't sound like a real food because mostly we don't tickle food. If you do tickle your food and there is a reason, I want to know about it.  I actually always thought it was very weird that my family called it that until I heard the story.  The recipe is from my grandmother's self-published cookbook which is called "Rusty's Random Recipes" and is mostly just weird things like jell-o salad and mayonnaise based everything.  There are a few gems in there, though.  This is one of them. She calls it curried honey chicken and it calls for Oleo.

Oleo is like margarine, I think? I don't actually know but it tells you that my grandmother is a million years old.  Shout out to you, Grandma.

 stacks on stack (of pastries)

stacks on stack (of pastries)

Anyway, this was a go-to dinner dish in my house growing up and we always called it honey tickled chicken and I was confused.  It turns out that when my brother was little and I was super-little (pre-memory little, I guess) my brother would call this honey tickled chicken because I guess he wasn't really advanced enough to understand what curry was.  Amateur.

 flakes making an escape

flakes making an escape

And so we will forevermore (why is that one word?) call this chicken honey tickled.  On another topic, what were your family's go-to dinner meals?  My roommate's dinners apparently involved something call Saucy Italian Thighs which she hasn't actually made for me but I am already obsessed with it.  Maybe publicly shaming her will convince her to make them.  I'll let you know.

Bon Appetit recently had a feature called "Will it taco?"  This post could alternately be called "Will it Empanada?"  The answer is yes, using store bought puff pastry because it is GOOD and also remember what I said about hating to roll things out? 

 oh layers of buttery pastry, let me count the ways i love you.

oh layers of buttery pastry, let me count the ways i love you.

I realize that this is bastardization of a food that carries some cultural significance.  My defense is this.  Firstly, food is not stagnant - but you didn't want to get into an academic discussion with me right now did you? Secondly, when I was in Ecuador I made empanadas with a lovely and generous Ecuadorian family for their Easter celebration.  For this reason, I feel like I am able to acknowledge the cultural significance and also be like "Yo, lemme do my thing with this puff pastry!"  So,  to Ecuador and all the other empanada loving countries - you are glorious.

HONEY TICKLED CHICKEN EMPANADAS

makes 6 empanadas

  • 2 chicken thighs (other cuts will work fine, but breasts may need less cooking time)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/8 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted (I used Pepperidge farms but I recommend Dufour or another all butter option if you can find it.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Melt butter and mix in honey, mustard, salt, pepper and curry powder.  Pour mixture over chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet or other small, oven safe container. Make sure the thighs are fully coated, then place in the oven.  Every fifteen minutes, remove skillet from the oven and spoon sauce over thighs.  After one hour, chicken should be done.  Set aside to cool.  

After about 20 minutes, use a knife to cut the meat off the bones and chop into small, bite-sized pieces.  Return to sauce in the bottom of the cast iron skillet and mix around to coat.

Roll out the puff pastry to about an inch longer and wider than it comes originally.  Cut into 6 rectangles.  Place a few spoonfuls of chicken on the lower half of the rectangle, with the shorter end parallel to you.  I like about 2 spoonfuls of chicken and a little sauce.  Then fold the other half over the chicken and press edges together with your fingers.  Transfer to a cookie sheet and press edges with a fork.  Repeat for remaining chicken and pastry.  Brush with butter.  

If you want the empanadas to be shinier, brush them with egg.  Note that if you do this the empanadas will brown faster, so be sure to watch them.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the pastry is puffy and lightly browned.  Remove from oven, and let cool.  If you feel frisky, dip the empanadas in the leftover sauce from the cast iron pan where you cooked the chicken.