March 14, 2013

Chicken and avocado stuffed naan

La Gringa's stuffed naan empanadas
La Gringa's chicken stuffed naan empanadas

I ran across a recipe for Indian naan bread that sounded good. Then I wondered if we could cook that on The Grill, too. Sure enough, I found a recipe for grilled naan and the accompanying photo looked delish.

Tried it. Loved it. You should try it, too.

Then I started playing with more grilled bread. One night we used naan breads for chicken fajitas instead of tortillas. Another night, we roasted some garlic – on the grill, of course, and made some garlic bread out of some leftover pizza dough topped with a little mozzarella/Parmesan mixed with some Italian seasoning. One time I made calzones with leftover pizza dough. Another time I added cumin seeds to the naan dough and we just ate it plain as a side dish.

Hot, fresh grilled bread. Tasty. It's hard to describe, but grilling bread goes so far beyond the flavor and texture you can get from the oven. It's quicker than the oven, too. I think this is another case of modern advancements not really improving upon the old ways – like machine made tortillas!

One day we had some leftover roasted chicken (El Jefe's unparalleled recipe made on The Grill, of course), and I had the idea to make some stuffed naan bread for lunch.

empanadasI followed this naan recipe for the naan dough (sans kalonji) except that I used less water and added about 1/2 cup of sourdough starter, which also meant that I had to add more flour, much more than I expected so I ended up with more dough than I planned. I considered freezing part of the dough after the first rise but then decided I would go ahead and make all the dough into ... well, let's call them 'empanadas' because I don't know what else to call them, besides 'delicious'.

That was a lucky decision because we had unexpected company for lunch. We only had two empanadas left over and packed them up for dinner for our guest who was embarking on a journey. More on that in the next article.  :-(

King Arthur Flour also has a naan recipe that sounds and looks good, but may not be very authentic. It also has a related blog article that includes lots of photos of the dough and the steps in the process which can be helpful, though my naan is not near as thick as some of those photos show. Note that this recipe makes double the amount as the previous All Recipes recipe, so if you use this one, either prepare half the KA recipe or plan on storing or freezing the other half of the dough for another use.

The next time, I will make these a bit smaller. I used about 3-ounce dough balls and rolled them to about 8 inches (which shrinks to about 7 inches). I shamefully ate two empanadas and I was so full, I couldn't eat dinner that night. I think about 2 to 2 1/2 ounces of dough rolled to about 6 inches would be a better size.

If the recipe makes more dough than you need, after the first rise, pat the excess dough into a disk, place into an oiled or Pam-sprayed sandwich bag, and refrigerate for a day or two. If you are going to keep it longer, place the baggie into a freezer bag and freeze. When ready to use, thaw the dough in the baggie for a couple of hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge and proceed with shaping the dough.

Chicken and avocado stuffed naan
Makes 6-8 empanadas, serves 4 to 6

One recipe naan dough (approximately 1-lb. or about 2 cups flour)
Leftover roasted chicken, shredded
Sliced pepper jack and/or cheddar cheeses
Red pepper
Sliced avocados, sprinkled with lemon juice and salt
Mantequilla blanca or sour cream

Of course, you have my permission to use any leftover meat, cheese, and/or vegetables that you have on hand that strike your fancy. For 6 empanadas, we used the equivalent of about two large chicken breasts. You can also divide the dough into smaller portions to make smaller empanadas.

Naan dough balls after rise
Start your dough about 2 to 2 1/2 hours before meal time. Follow the instructions for the naan dough up through the rise (step 2). If you don't have plain yogurt, you could use milk, or add a couple of drops of lemon juice to the milk to make a thick buttermilk as a substitute. You can also just use melted butter if you don't want to mess with making clarified butter (ghee). This recipe makes a very soft dough so don't go overboard adding extra flour unless it is very sticky. Tip: I use the dough cycle on the bread machine for the mixing and initial rise.

When the dough is risen to about double its original size, punch down and knead it for a few minutes. Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces, roll into balls, dust with flour, and let rest a few minutes covered with plastic or a tea towel.

sauteeing the chiles
Preheat the grill to medium-high. Cut the pepper into strips and then into one inch pieces. Saute the peppers for 2-3 minutes just to bring out the flavor and slightly soften them.

stuffed naan ingredientsShred the chicken and add to the chiles to heat it for couple of minutes if it came cold from the fridge. Add a little salt and pepper, if needed. Slice the cheese.

Roll out or pat and stretch out the dough balls to about 7 to 8 inch circles. If the dough springs back when rolling, let it rest covered 5 minutes and then try again.

preparing empanadas
Put a couple of spoonfuls of the chicken-pepper mixture on one side of the dough. Top with cheese slices. Fold over the dough and seal the edges as you would seal a pie crust or a pastilito.

Place the prepared empanadas on a floured or silicon sheet covered tray and carefully transfer them one by one to the grill. Initially the dough will stick to the grates, but it will release when it is cooked. Use your judgment and turn down the grill a little if the dough seems close to burning.

empanadas on the grillClose grill lid and allow the pastries to 'bake' for 2-4 minutes until the bottom is golden with some good brown (not black) grill marks and the bottom looks done (looks like bread instead of dough). Brush the top with melted butter and carefully turn over with a big metal spatula. The dough releases from the grates when ready to turn. If it sticks, the dough is not ready to turn. Brush the new upper side with butter and continue baking with the lid closed for another 3-6 minutes. Grill temperatures vary a lot, so keep a close eye on them.

When serving, cut in half and stick an avocado slice or two inside each half along with a spoon of mantequilla blanca or sour cream if desired.


La Gringa's stuffed naan empanadas

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