Empanadas are originally from Spain. The word for bread in Spanish is “pan”. Empanadas are confections which are surrounded by “bread”. Other than being pastry turn overs empanadas differ from country to country and region to region with different types of dough and filling. Although empanadas can be found in any Spanish speaking country, Argentina has made the confection a national obsession. The typical empanada is usually made with ground beef or in some regions cubed beef but small empanadas made with ham and cheese, fish, or vegetables fillings are also very popular.
Where I grew up meat empanadas were made with ground beef and flavored with pimentón (simlar to paprika), onion (no garlic!), and cumin. A piece of boiled egg and an olive were inserted into every empanada. The dough was made with flour, water, and lard but in some regions the French Patê Brisée is used as in the following version.
The idea is to make the dough for the empanadas, put the dough in the refrigerator, make the filling allowing it to cool for about 1/2 an hour, and then begin to make the rounds and stuff the empanadas. This recipe is definitely not in the “30 minutes or less group!” Allow about 3 hrs. for making and baking. HOWEVER! The empanadas freze well, so making a double batch is no problem. To re-heat frozen empanadas, set in a cold oven, heat the oven to 400 degrees and then leave the empanadas in the oven 5 more minutes.
Ingredients for the dough:
- 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- Place flour, salt, and butter cut into the food processor bowl and blend until mixture resembles coarse corn meal with some pea-size butter lump.
- Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated.
- Process until the mixture settles on the side of the bowl.
- Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then kead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Form dough into a long and chill, wrapped in foil or plastic wrap, at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.
Rolling out the dough and assembling the Empanadas
- Roll out the dough piece into a circle on a well floured surface and dust lightly with additional flour both front and back. Put on a plate and put the plate in the refrigerator.
- Roll out the rest of the dough pieces in the same manner. You will end up with a stack of pastry rounds.
- In order to fill the empanadas successfully, the stuffing needs to be either cold or at room temperature otherwise the pastry will “melt” and you won’t be able to close it with the little rope twist.
- Place each empanada on a lightly greased cookie sheet as you fill them and then when they are all filled, brush with egg wash and bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes (as described in empanada recipe)
Ingredients for the filling:
- 10 prepared empanada rounds
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 2 lbs. lean ground chuck
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed or ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons raisins
- 2 boiled eggs, chopped
- 10 green olives, chopped
- 1 egg, slightly beaten, with 1 tablespoon water added
- Boil the eggs and allow to cool.
- Soak raisins in water for 10 minutes or cover with water and microwave for 1 minute.
- In a heavy skillet, combine onion, olive oil, and water and boil over high heat until the water is evaporated.
- Add the meat and cook with medium high heat until the meat is brown in color.
- Stir in the raisins, red pepper, paprika, cumin, salt & pepper and simmer for about 5-8 minutes to blend the flavors. Most of the liquid should be evaporated.
- Add the chopped egg and green olives. Allow the mixture to cool while oven is warming.
Pre-heat oven to 425°F
To form the empanadas: Fold half of the round over to form a crescent. Moisten one side of the crescent with water so it will adhere better. Begin pressing the edges with thumb and forefinger then fold the edge and with thumb and forefinger create a rope on the edge.
Place empanadas on cookie sheet and brush with beaten egg mixture. Cook for 20 minutes.