Argentine Empanadas

Empanadas are stuffed pastries common in Spain and Latin America. For those living in the UK, they are similar to Cornish pasties but much tastier! There are loads of variety of fillings but my favourites are beef and cheese and onion (see the recipes below).
‘Rock and a hard place’ by Andrea Bramhall is the story of mountain climber Jayden Harris and marketing executive Rhian Phillips who meet while filming a reality show in Patagonia. As Rhian explores the area to organise the filming, she samples some typical Argentine cuisine and she particularly loves the empanadas. Will she also find someone to love too?
 

In ‘Just for show’ by Jae, Dr. Renshaw is a successful couples therapist with a mild obsessive compulsive disorder and a big reputation at stake when her fiancée calls the engagement off. As an expert in relationships, a career changing book deal might fall through if her publisher realises that she’s been dumped. Hiring an actress to play the role of her fiancée seems to be the perfect solution, at least in theory. But when Lana appears in Claire’s life with her untidiness, her diet full of carbs and tendency to put her
foot in her mouth, Claire starts second guessing her decision. Will Lana’s cheese empanadas do the trick?

Empanadas recipe
Filling
Cheese and onion filling
2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
4 spring onions, sliced
8 ounces matured cheddar cheese, Grated
Dice the yellow onions and slice the spring onions. Heat 2 tbsp butter and 3 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat in small pan. Add the yellow and spring onions and cover. Cook until the yellow onions are translucent. Remove lid and increase heat to medium high, add wine and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and let it cool. Add the grated mature cheddar cheese. Refrigerate for 24 hs.
(My recipe)
Beef
minced meat (not too lean), 700gr
onions, 2 (big), or 3 (medium), diced
spring onions, 3, sliced
vegetable stock, 1 cube, crushed
olive oil, 3 tablespoons
butter, 30gr
tomato sauce, 300gr
green pitted olives, 300gr, cut in halves.
hard-boiled eggs, 2, diced
paprika ( mild or hot), to taste
cumin, 1 teaspoon
salt & pepper
In a large frying pan, sautée the onions in the oil and butter. (Using butter is important since once cold, it will make assembling the empanadas easier). Sprinkle the crushed cube of vegetable stock (This enhances flavour). Add in the meat. Cook until slightly coloured (it is not recommended to cook well meat well, since then, the empanadas will be baked or fried, so a double cooking process will make meat harder!)
Incorporate the tomato sauce (this is optional, but I find this makes empanadas “juicier”, Argentinians love it when their empanadas drip the meat/onions/tomato juice!; this is also why you don’t have to skimp on the onions…) Cook for 2′. Add in all the spices, the olives and hard-boiled eggs. Refrigerate, preferably 24 hs.
(Recipe by BBC Good food).
Empanada dough
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
1 egg
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of water or milk, adjust as needed to obtain a soft and smooth dough
Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
Add the butter and pulse
Add the egg and the water or milk (in small increments) and continue pulsing until a clumpy dough forms.
To make the empanada dough by hand, follow the same instruction but use your hands to mix the ingredients together.
Split the dough into 2 large ball, flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (doesn’t need to be perfectly round) – if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.
Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator/freezer to use later.
Assembling and baking the empanadas:
To assemble the empanadas or turnovers, place a spoonful of the filling on the middle of each empanada disc. The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed. Also, the more you make empanadas, the easier it becomes to stuff them to the max and still seal them properly.
To seal the empanadas, fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can use brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges. To the repulgue, the curl type seal, use your fingers to twist the curl the edges. There are also empanada molds that you can buy and will help seal the empanadas.
For best results, I recommend refrigerating for at least 30 minutes the empanadas before baking – this also helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
If you want your empanadas to have a nice golden finish, then you can brush them with egg wash (a whole egg whisked or egg yolk plus a few drops of water whisked).
Bake the empanadas in a pre-heated oven. I usually bake them at 375F-400F, the temperature will vary based on the oven and the size of the empanadas. I bake the smaller sized empanadas at 375F. The baking time also varies (again based on the oven and size), but it’s in the range of 18-25 minutes – the empanadas will be ready once they are golden.
(Recipe by Layla Pujol)