I am a massive fan of pastry (I am Northern, after all), so you can imagine my delight when I discovered that pies are everywhere in Argentina (and other South American countries) in the form of an empanada.
Empanadas are eaten at any time of the day, served hot or cold, easy to eat on the move, and are a cheap and (generally) pretty tasty. They have global streetbite written all over them and I got involved, big style.
Originating in Spain (northern region of Galicia) and Portugal, empanadas were brought over to South America by Spanish colonisers in the 1500s.
Essentially just a half-moon-shaped pasty (not dissimilar to the Cornish pasty, dare I say it), they are available with a variety fillings such as jamon y queso (thats ham and cheese), chicken and carne (yes, meat…unidentified?!).
As a massive cheesophile I predicted jamon y queso to be my favourite, but they actually had generally waaaay to much queso for my liking (Argentina in general… pies just filled with cheese, resulting in sweat central). No, my favourite was actually carne, and this was generally beef (Argentinians do some good beef) gently spiced with cumin and smoked paprika (which is possibly the best spice ever to have been invented).
Two weeks after leaving Argentina I decided I needed to get the pastry/carne/paprika combo back into my life. I found a great-looking recipe on this blog (amazing photos!) and used it as a basis to have a go – adapted recipe below. I even put a pinny on and made the pastry from scratch! And I got really excited about the boiled egg in the filling. REALLY excited about the boiled egg.
Gotta love Wikipedia…
The name comes from the Galician, Portuguese and Spanish verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.
2.5 cups flour
1.5 tsp salt
500g unsalted butter
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/3 cup water
400g lean ground or minced beef
1.5 tbsp smoked paprika
1.5 tbsp ground cumin
1 red pepper
400g tin tomatoes
1 more egg to glaze the top
Did you know…?
National Empanada day is the 8th April. I will be making more empanadas on the 8th April to mark the day, and hope you will too.
- Sieve the flour into a large bowl, add the salt and with the tips of your fingers rub in the butter until it looks kinda crumbly
- In a separate small bowl, beat the egg and add the vinegar and water
- Mix the egg mix into the flour/butter mix and squish it around with your hands until it is all combined
- Roll it into a ball, wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 1 hour
- First start by putting 2 eggs onto boil (exciting!)
- Chop the onion and red pepper into small pieces
- Put the olive oil to a large pan and add the chopped onions and pepper; fry until soft
- Add the beef and stir until brown
- Add the tin of tomatoes, cumin and paprika; season
- Turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes
- When the eggs are boiled (don’t ask me how long that is supposed to take – I guessed) take them out, plunge into cold water and when cooled peel, chop and add to the meat mixture
Assembling the empanada:
- Put the oven on – 200°C
- Get the pastry out of the fridge and flour a dry surface to roll your pasty on
- Flour your hands and take a handful of pastry
- Roll (using a rolling pin, or the side of a wine bottle) until around 3mm thick
- Use a bowl or a small place of around 4 inches in diameter to cut around with a knife
- Place a few spoonfuls of the mixture into the middle of the circle (how much depends on how big your circle is, and it is trial and error how much you need before it starts spilling out everywhere)
- Fold the pastry over the top of the mix to make a semi-circle, press the edges together using the underside of a teaspoon
- Put the final egg into a cup and beat with a fork; apply this mix to the top of the empanada using your fingers
- Place into the oven for 20-25 minutes; check it regularly and take out when the top is golden brown
Freeze them for up to 3 months – no need to defrost, just pop them straight into the oven!
If this flavour doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty more online – some get quite fancy smancy. Check out this gorgeous blog with some different options (including the one I made above).