Recently I made up some homemade ricotta, and a few days later some empanadas. Wanting to use up the last of the ricotta, I stuffed a few of them with this filling made in the style of my mom’s vareniki (Mennonite perogies). She makes fruit vareniki and these amazing cottage cheese ones… yum! So I thought the ricotta would be a suitable substitute, and work well with the pastry – oh, was I ever right!
In my original recipe I used only butter in the pastry, but this time I used half butter, half lard, and found the pastry turned out a little flakier – I like! Of course you can just use butter if you wish.
What you need for the filling:
one recipe ricotta or one tub from the store
salt and pepper
What you need for the pastry:
2 & 1/4 cups flour
1 & 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup lard (or use 1/4 cup more butter)
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
1 egg for brushing on the pastry, mixed with a little water
What you do:
1. To make the pastry, blend the cold butter and lard into the flour and salt with a pastry blender or your fingers (works best with colder hands). Mix the egg, water and vinegar, and add them to the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until combined, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2. Mix the ricotta, egg, and salt and pepper (to taste) with a fork.
3. Have a little bowl of water handy for sealing the edges of the pastry.
4. Sprinkle flour on your work surface and form the dough into disks, rolling out to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut out circles with a large cookie cutter or the edge of a bowl.
5. Fill the pastry with a tablespoon or so of ricotta. Dab a little water around half of the edge of the pastry, then fold the pastry over and seal.
6. Place the pastries on a baking sheet, which does not need to be greased. Cut small slits in the tops of the pastries, then brush them with a little of the egg.
7. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.
Let them cool slightly before serving.