Sunday, August 26, 2012

Recipe | Empanadas

An empanada is a stuffed pastry which can be baked or fried and are very popular in Argentina. The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread!

Since his travels to and around Argentina, my dad has wanted to recreate this sensation in our own kitchen at home, so he decided to compare many recipes across the internet, and also from other sources, to compile his own recipe, taking what he thought would be the best elements from each. Such a feat could prove not such a great idea when baking a completely new food, however, the empanadas being a simple food, were quite forgiving.

Ingredients for the Filling

2 tbs olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
500g beef mince
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp Moroccan seasoning
Pinch of Salt
1 tbs white vinegar
½ cup sultanas
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled, coarsely chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked (to brush and seal Pastry)
Pitted black olives (at least 20 olives)

Ingredients for the Pastry

3 cups plain flour
100g chilled butter, chopped
½ salt
2 egg yolks, lightly whisked
Cold water


Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or pot over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until brown. Add the mince and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until cooked. Add the cumin, cinnamon, paprika, Moroccan seasoning, nutmeg, cloves, salt and stir. After 1 or 2 minutes, add the vinegar, stirring, for another minute. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl and cover. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, to make the pastry, place the flour, butter and salt in a large bowl and knead until it is well combined.  (This step can also be made in a food processor if desired). Place the mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and water. I added the water in small dashes, probably about 3 tablespoons at a time. Keep adding the moist ingredients in intervals, while kneading the dough together until it reaches a smooth, elastic texture, that does not crack. Roll the pastry dough into a nice ball, and place back in the bowl, cover, and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to cool.

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper or foil. Clear out your working space so that you have enough room to roll out the pastry into discs.Roll out the pastry dough on your lightly floured work surface until it is about 3mm thick. Use a round, 12cm diameter pastry cutter to cut discs out of the pastry. I made about 19 empanadas with my homemade pastry cutter.

Stir the chopped hard boiled egg into the mince mixture and season with salt and pepper if desired. Place about 1 tablespoon of the mince mixture in the centre of a pastry disc. Top with 1 olive and a few sultanas. Brush the edges of the pastry with some egg and fold the pastry disc in half to enclose the filling. Be sure to firmly press the edges together, and then crimp and fold over to create a wavy edge. Place crimped side up on the oven tray and repeat with the remaining mince mixture, pastry discs, olives and sultanas.

Brush the empanadas with the remaining egg, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden. 

This recipe serves 4 hungry adults.

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