Homemade argentine empanadas

Empanadas, my go-to take out in Buenos Aires.

With so many delicious CHEAP options that deliver right to my doorstep, I sometimes ask myself, why am I making these by hand, they are so time-consuming?!!

But, when done right you can taste every minute of hard work and patience.

If possible, grab a helper.  An extra pair of hands makes it much more enjoyable.

My first empanada lesson was from my suegra (future mother in law) who taught me her version of Mendoza styled empanadas.

Over the weekend I tried the recipe from Francis Mallman’s Siete Fuegos, the cookbook of Argentina.   Even though the recipes are practically identical in ingredients, hers trumps the shit out of his.

Hooray for learning from the locals.

The key to successful juicy empanadas is all about the onion.  Some use equal parts, others use 2 x 1 onion to beef.

Empanadas mendocinas  (24) ::

  • 500g beef, preferably ground
  • 500g onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1/2 cup olives (Nicoise!), minced
  • green onion, sliced whites and green separated
  • cumin
  • paprika, cayenne, or other chili powder
  • salt & pepper
  • vegetable oil, pork fat, or butter

Saute the onion until nice and caramelized.  Add the garlic, green onion whites, a pinch of salt and continue to cook for 10 minutes.

While that’s cooking place the eggs in a pot, cover with water and place over medium heat.  Cook for 10 minutes once the water has been brought to a boil.  Transfer eggs to an ice bath to prevent further cooking.

Add the meat to the onion mix along with the cumin, oregano, and ground chili, about a tablespoon each.  Brown the meat and discard accumulated grease.  Season well with salt & pepper.  Taste, adjust seasoning, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Peel and cut the eggs into sixths.

Mix olives, eggs, and green onion (green part) to the meat mix.

If you’re in the ‘I will do everything from scratch’ mood, you can make your own masa.

No kneading or resting is necessary so it’s pretty basic.

If you’re not into and in Buenos Aires, no worries.  You can buy really good empanada wrappers from any super or chino.

The best brand is La Salteña and there are choices- big, small, criolla para horno, para freír

I’m a criolla para horno kind of girl.  They’re just SO FLAKY and light.  Possibly better than Mr. Francis Mallman’s recipe listed below.

Before you get started preheat the oven to 400°F.

Masa para empandas (24) ::

  • 2 cups water
  • 1.5 TBS salt
  • 53 grams of pork fat cut in small dice
  • 6-7 cups 0000 flour

Sift flour and salt into big mixing bowl.  Add fat and smash with fork or finger tips til broken down.  Gradually add water until a non-sticky ball is formed.  Divide into four pieces and roll out dough to 3mm.  Grab a bowl and cut out circles of 12cm diameter.

According to Mallman’s recipe, he brings the water, salt, and fat to a boil.  He then cools it and slowly adds it to the flour.  This makes zero sense to me and I think most dough makers would agree.  Do whichever method you think is best.

Once the dough is cut out grab a small bowl of water and a spoon.  Holding the dough in your left hand dip your right index fingertip in the water and wet the border of the circle.  Grab the spoon and place two big spoonfuls of meat mix in the center.  Close the circle to a half-moon (like a taco) and seal the borders together.

The easiest folding method is to lie the closed empanada on a lightly floured surface, grab a fork and lightly smash the rounded side.  Or check out this video and try some fancier technique.

Carefully place the empanadas on a baking sheet.  Some people like to brush the empanadas with an egg wash to get a nice golden color and help seal the fold.  I don’t find it necessary.

Bake the empanadas for 6-8 minutes til golden brown.  Serve immediately, preferably with Sriracha!

So cute!  They remind me of crabs!  Soon I will post the recipe for my famous boeuf bourguignon empanadas.  They are magic.