The empanadas from El Patio Market in Jessup need cheese in this week's contest because they're competing without the benefit of oil. The empanadas are baked and sold from a case at the checkout. You can have them heated there or bring them home for a quick 400-degree touchup in your oven.
Until samosas, the empanadas come with enormous variation. Depending on the day, you can get cheese and onion, ham and cheese, spinach, chicken, and more. The flavor is in the fillings -- that melted cheese or shredded chicken mixed with spices and vegetables. The shells are a shiny pastry that crackles after it has been reheated.
These could be a hot lunch if you were running errands, or they can be a super-easy dinner if you wanted to carry something home. Each variety is folded slightly different -- one folder corner, two corners, a letter pressed into the dough -- so you can recognize the filing even without cutting them open. Because they're baked, you can leave them in the fridge and re-heat them when you want.
If you go to El Patio, check out the savory pies in the counter as well. We tried one with a shredded chicken filling, and it reheated deliciously. Same crisp crust on the top and flavorful filling.
This is part of the Samosa Week -- a celebration of savory pastries from India and beyond. We're highlighting the best of Howard County's fried appetizers in all kinds of flavors.
El Patio Market
7968 Washington Boulevard (U.S. 1)
Jessup, MD 20794
NEAR: Just south of Rte 175 on U.S. 1. It's on the west side about a block south of the intersection. Very convenient from I-95.