You can find this recipe and many more in our cookbook Gaby's Latin American Kitchen.
A note from Gaby Melian:
I grew up eating savory empanadas—pastries filled with different meats, vegetables, and spices; sometimes fried and sometimes baked— made by my family. Each relative used different flavors and ingredient combinations. But the real differentiator between empanada makers was the way they closed the empanadas. Before baking, you need to crimp the dough to keep the filling contained. In Argentina this crimping is called “repulgue,” which translates to “hem” or “crimp.” My abuela showed me her way of crimping when I was about 8 years old. It wasn’t hard, but I suddenly started doing my own style of repulgue. And not to brag, but I was really good at it! I worked really fast, and the empanadas never burst in the oven. From then on, I was always in charge of crimping. This recipe is my own twist on my mom’s version of empanadas de pollo! I simplify things by using frozen empanada dough and rotisserie chicken.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat for about 1 minute (the oil should be hot but not smoking). Add the onion, bell pepper, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the onions just start to brown and peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan, until the tomato paste gets darker in color, about 1 minute.
Add the shredded chicken, chicken broth, paprika, and cumin and gently stir to combine. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the saucepan with a lid, and cook for 6 minutes.
Use oven mitts to remove the lid. Gently stir in the olives. Turn off the heat and slide the saucepan to a cool burner. Season with salt to taste. Transfer the chicken mixture to a medium bowl and place it in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 45 minutes.
While the filling is cooling, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Fill a small bowl with water. In the second small bowl, lightly beat the egg with a fork. When the filling is cool, fill and shape the empanadas following the photos below.
Use a pastry brush to paint the tops and sides of the empanadas lightly with the beaten egg. Place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake until the empanadas are golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
No one can say exactly where the first empanada was made or eaten, but evidence shows that they originated in a region of Spain called Galicia. The word “empanada” comes from the Galician verb “empanar,” which meant “to coat in bread.” Brought to Latin America by Spanish colonizers, empanadas come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, with different fillings and breading and cooking methods. They’re often savory, but can also be sweet. In Argentina, empanadas can be fried or baked, and the dough is made of wheat flour. There are various types of beef empanadas, some made with ground beef and some made with meat cut in tiny cubes, depending on the region. In Ecuador, they make empanadas de viento (“wind” empanadas). The dough is made of wheat flour and they are filled with quesillo (a type of cheese) and onions and then fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. In México, the most popular empanadas are fried; made of masa (corn flour); filled with cheese or beef; and served topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, and crema. Every country has their own, and they are amazingly delicious!