My grandma came to visit us a few weeks ago. We call her Nana, and she’s one of my favourite people. She doesn’t speak any english, she’s funnier than most people I know, and she means business. She’s tougher than most grandma’s too. She survived a war, she put her children through school, plus nieces and nephews, all as a single mom. I’ll tell you guys her story another time. Today it’s about Nana’s Empanada’s. She’s made these for us every time she has come to visit us for the last 15 years.

Empanada’s are a LOT of work. But they just might be one of the best things you put in your mouth…. EVER. I’m mostly writing this recipe out so I can have record of it, and when I’m feeling brave and have a lot of time to spare, I can make these again:)



  • For the filling:
  • 28 chicken drumsticks
  • 12-14 garlic cloves, divided
  • 2 large onions, divided
  • 6 celery sticks, diced
  • 1 small bunch, cilantro, divided
  • 2 green pepper, cut in small pieces
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 12 potatoes
  • oil for lightly frying

In a large stock pot, add all of your drumsticks, 6 whole garlic cloves, celery, 1 roughly chopped onion in big pieces, and a few strands of cilantro (does not need to be chopped). Fill pot with water to cover everything. Cook on medium heat until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, bring peeled potatoes to a boil until cooked. While potatoes are cooking, remove the chicken from the broth and set aside to cool slightly, making sure to KEEP the broth!! Once cooled, pull the chicken into small pieces, set aside. Finely chop the 6 garlic cloves, along with the other onion, green pepper, tomatoes, and the remaining cilantro. In a large pot heat the oil over medium low heat. Once hot, add your remaining finely chopped garlic, frying until fragrant. Then, add your green peppers, and next your onion, and stir together until well combined. Remove from heat and add your tomatoes, shredded chicken, and cilantro. Mix well, set aside. Mash your potatoes, but not smooth. Making sure there are still some lumps and chunks. add this to your chicken mixture, mix well making sure everything is evenly distributed.


Ingredients for the dough:

  • Broth from chicken
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 1 5lb bag of yellow cornmeal flour
  • oil for deep frying

On a clean surface, make a volcano with cornmeal. In the whole of the volcano slowly add some of the broth. With your hands, gently start to add the cornmeal to the centre, making sure not to have your volcano over flow. Keep adding broth until all your dough has been mixed well, you may need to add some water to the broth if you see you’re starting to run low. The texture should be that of almost play dough, just not as smooth. It should be soft and pliable, but not too sticky.

Once you have reached the desired texture, start making roughly 3″ balls, where you will squish down in the handy dandy little tool you see in the picture below (You can get it any Latin/Mexican store). Once you’ve squished a ball, fill it with the filling, fold in half like a perogy, and seal the edges. Deep fry for about 4-5 mins on medium heat, making sure the inside is cooking. Flip over half way through. Serve with chimol, also known as pico de gallo in Mexico, but you need to start calling it chimol to represent us Salvadoreans:) If you attempted these…. Pat yourself on the back and eat all of them to yourself, thats too much dang work to share!!



These mean a lot to me… it’s hard to explain. I feel that if I am able to make these on my own, I will in some way have a part of grandma with me always, and I can carry on her tradition. I’m Latina, and my grandmother doesn’t speak any english, and this, in some weird way brings me pride. She’s my little old lady who has my heart. Food somehow has a funny way of bringing people together, doesn’t it? She’s made these for so many friends of mine, and despite the language barrier, one thing has always been understood. Nana has the best empanada’s around, and that brings me joy. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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