Posted tagged ‘empanada’

Empanadas

November 24, 2018

Almost every culture has its own version of a savory filling cooked inside dough – ravioli, pierogies, pasties, pot stickers, etc. Empanadas are South America’s best known contribution to the mix. There are probably as many empanada recipes as there are cooks, and there are plenty of creative ways to vary the recipe such as cooking small potato cubes with the beef or placing a slice of hardboiled egg on top of the filling. They can be finger food or made larger for eating with a knife and fork. They can be frozen after assembly then thawed and baked at a later date.¬†

I present two options for the dough. The first is traditional and uses only lard, flour, water, and salt. It gives a sturdy, flavorful result. The second uses store-bought puff pastry and, as you would expect, results in a tender, flaky crust. The photo above shows the puff pastry version.

The dough (traditional)

5-6 c all purpose flour
2 c water
2 tsp salt
1/2 c lard (preferred) or butter, plus a little extra

Bring the water, salt, and lard to a simmer and stir to melt the lard. Let come to room temperature. Add the flour a cup at a time, mixing to get a firm dough. You may not use all the flour. Knead for a minute or two until smooth, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Puff pastry

If it is frozen, let the puff pastry thaw in the fridge overnight.

The filling

1 lb ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 c pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in thirds
1/3 c dried currants or raisins
2 tsp dried oregano
A few grindings of black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 TB tomato paste

Sauté the ground beef in a little oil until just browned. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft. Dissolve the tomato paste in 1/2 c broth or water and add to the pan along with the olives, currants, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Simmer slowly for a few minutes. Taste and correct salt if needed. If necessary, add a bit more water or broth to get a moist but not soupy mixture. Or if too soupy let simmer for a while to reduce. Set aside to cool (may be refrigerated overnight at this time or frozen for future use).

The assembly (traditional dough)

Bring the filling to room temperature if needed. Break off chunks of the still-cold dough and form into balls about golf ball size or a little larger. Roll into 4-5 inch circles on a floured surface and place 3-4 TB of filling in the center. Moisten the edge with water and fold over, sealing by pressing with a fork. The goal is to trap as little air as possible inside. If the sealed edge is wider than you want you can trim a bit off with a sharp knife. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Oven at 375.

The assembly (puff pastry)

Roll the pastry out onto a cutting board. Cut into desired size pieces. Because the pastry comes in rectangular sheets, it’s most efficient to use square or rectangular pieces for assembly. Put some filling on each piece, brush the edges with water, and fold over, sealing with your fingers or a fork. If you are using square pieces you an make triangles.

Final prep and baking

Use a pointy knife to cut a small slit in the top of each. For traditional dough, melt a bit of lard or butter and brush over the surface. For puff pastry, use milk. Bake for 15-20 min until nicely browned. Serve warm.


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