Mama Tanya’s Soul-Panadas
Mama Tanya’s soul-panadas are stuffed with puréed black-eyed peas, collard greens, bacon, pernil or chicken, and aromatics for a comforting dish the whole family will enjoy. Black-eyed peas, the glue that holds these empanadas together, have been grown in the Americas since before the 1700’s and have historically been used by farmers (including George Washington) as companion crops. Over the next 100 years, black-eyed peas became significant to African-Americans, and are often associated with good fortune, so they are served on holidays like New Year’s Day in dishes like Hoppin’ John. Drawing on those traditional flavors, these soul-panadas are like a soul food meal, wrapped in a deep- or air-fried crust. They can be assembled ahead of time and frozen for a convenient snack or easy meal anytime!
for 8 servings
Tanya’s Soul Seasoning
- ¼ cup kosher salt (30 g)
- 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- kosher salt, for boiling
- 2 cups collard greens (340 g), cleaned, stemmed, and roughly chopped
- 4 strips bacon, diced
- ½ large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 4 cups pernil or rotisserie chicken (500 g), skin and bones removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground bay leaves
- 1 cup canned black-eyed peas (125 g), puréed
- ½ green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- 8 large discs of empanada dough
- 1 qt frying oil (1 L), such as canola or vegetable (optional)
- Make Tanya’s soul seasoning: In a 1-cup container, combine the salt, sugar, paprika, turmeric, onion powder, garlic powder, and cornstarch. Stir well, then cover until ready to use. The seasoning will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
- Blanch the collards: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the collard greens and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the collards in a colander, pressing out any excess water with the back of a spoon.
- Make the filling: In a large pot or high-walled skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until the fat renders and the bacon is golden brown, but not crispy, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the collard greens, stir to coat in the bacon grease, and cook until wilted, 5–7 minutes. Stir in the pernil, garlic, and thyme and cook until the meat is warmed though and the garlic is fragrant, 5–7 minutes more. Stir in the puréed black-eyed peas, 1 tablespoon of Tanya’s soul seasoning, and the ground bay leaves until combined and cook until warmed through, 1–2 minutes. Add the green and red bell peppers and stir to incorporate. Remove the pot from the heat and pour off any excess liquid. Add more of Tanya’s soul seasoning to taste.
- If air frying the empanadas, preheat the air fryer to 325°F (160°C). If deep-frying, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until the temperature reaches 365°F (185°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set a wire rack on top.If baking, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place a disc of empanada dough in an empanada maker and moisten the edges with the egg wash. Add a heaping spoonful of the filling to one half of the dough. Close the empanada maker to seal. Repeat with remaining empanada dough and filling. (If you do not have an empanada maker, line a clean surface with a sheet of parchment paper. Place a disc of empanada dough on the parchment and moisten the edges with egg wash. Scoop a heaping spoonful of the filling onto one half of the disc. Fold the disc over the filling and press to close, using a fork carefully crimp the edges.)
- If air-frying the empanadas, spray the basket with nonstick spray, then add the empanadas in a single layer, spacing about 1 inch apart (work in batches to avoid overcrowding). Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash, then cook for 7–10 minutes, flipping halfway through, until golden brown. If deep-frying the empanadas, carefully place in the hot oil a few at a time and fry until the dough has bubbled and is deep golden brown in color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack to drain and cool slightly. If baking, arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Cut 3 small slits in the top of each empanada to vent, then brush the tops with the egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
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