Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Almost Authentic Argentine Meat Empanadas

Copyright 2008 by Cooking With The Single Guy

1 lb. ground turkey or lamb (or a combination of both)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
½ cup raisins (golden raisins preferable)
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
½ cup green onions (green part only), finely diced
¾ cup pitted green olives, chopped into small bits
2 T Pimentón (smoked sweet paprika)
2 T ground cumin
2 T vegetable oil
2 T butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Empanada dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup lard or vegetable shortening
2 T butter
2 cups water
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Start by making the filling. Place butter and vegetable oil into large saucepan over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent (about 3 to 5 minutes). You don’t want to brown your onions, so lower your heat if it starts to color. Adding a pinch of salt now will help cook your onions. Add bell pepper and cook for another minute, then add the meat and season with salt, pepper, cumin and pimentón. (Taste to see if you like the flavor, if not adjust the seasoning.) Cook meat until well done. Remove from heat and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Now focus on the dough. Dissolve the salt in hot water and let your salted water mixture cool to room temperature. Then melt your lard/vegetable shortening and butter in a separate pan. Place flour in a medium-sized bowl, then slowly add the melted lard/butter and mix flour with fork to create little balls. Then add a little bit of salted water as you mix the flour with your hand. (Don’t use all the water, just enough to create a dough that’s kind of like playdough.) Adjust with more water or more flour as you continue to knead the dough with your hand, creating a dough mixture that you can mold. Continue kneading until you get the right texture (don’t knead too much though.) When you’re happy with the texture, cover your dough in the bowl and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to make your empanadas, start by creating the skin. Remove your dough from the refrigerator and pinch balls a bit smaller than a golf ball. (The size depends on how big you want your empanadas.) After you have a tray of mini dough balls, then flatten each one with a hand-size roller pin to create small tiny circles, like a mini pizza. The skin should be at least 1/8-inch thick or less. (Trick is to push out the ball from the center, moving it a quarter inch each time to make a nice round skin.)

Once you’ve made all your empanada skins, bring out your filling and mix in the olives, raisins, eggs and spring onions.

Create your empanada buy placing a spoonful of filling on one side of the circle skin, then fold over and pat down the edges, making a half-circle almost like a baby calzone. Now you can either decorate the edges by doing the traditional Argentine rope edges by starting on one end and turning over a bit, and then folding over and over along the edges to create a rope look. Or you can do the simple method of pushing down the teeth of a fork along the edge.

Place your empanadas on a lined baking sheet (Silpat sheets are the best). Create an egg wash by mixing one raw egg with a bit of water. Paint the egg wash on top of every empanada. (Optional: crack a bit of fresh sea salt on top of each empanada.) Place in oven and back until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes about three dozen (depending on how big you made the skins). Serve with a green salad or roasted corn.

Pair with a glass of Argentine Torrontes white wine.

TIP: It’s important that you make sure your filling is cold before making the empanadas. If it’s hot, it’s harder for the mixture to stick together as you’re placing it on the skin. To save time, you can make the filling the night before you plan on making your empanadas.

STORE-BOUGHT SKINS: In some cities with a large Latin population, you can actually buy ready-made empanada skins from specialty stores, which will save you some time. Still, it’s pretty labor intensive to fill each skin and create the rope edges, but that’s the whole idea behind hand-made empanadas!

TOO MUCH FILLING: If you have filling left over, you can freeze it for another empanada-making party! Or you can mix it with some rice and beans in a tortilla and make a burrito.


Carolyn Jung said...

Oh yum! Those look so good. I'm guessing you can assemble them, and freeze them, too, for future use?

Chef Ben said...

I'm guessing you can, though I haven't tried. I did assemble them and refrigerated overnight and baked them in the morning to take to work for a Halloween potluck. I know in the freeze right now I have leftover filling that I'm going to defrost and fill into a new batch of dough that I'll make down the road. But with all the work involved, I think any way you can prepare early and save for later will always be a good idea.

Veronica said...

I have been craving a good empanada lately. I may have to borrow your recipe.

Cucinista said...

Those look amazing and a fairly easy recipe. They look very similar to saltenas, the Bolivian version. My source in Bolivia tells me that many people freeze these after assembling and bake them straight out of the freezer (obviously adjusting for cooking times. It may actually help hold them together and keep the pastry from getting soggy.

Anonymous said...

The recipe was fantastic. I had some leftover turkey sausage and lentil stew that I pureed and reduced to eliminate the extra water. The rest of the recipe I followed because the seasonings sounded right. It was great and my kids loved them. I wish I had the chimichurri sause too!