Friday, January 04, 2013

How to Make Empanadas

Last night I posted a picture on Instagram of my homemade empanadas and I had so many requests for the recipe, I figured making empanadas needed its own post.

Empanadas are usually meat-filled pies. The empanadas from Spain are typically made of a type of bread dough, are as big as a cookie sheet, and are often filled with salt cod (bacalao) or good tuna (they're delicious, swearsies.)  I'm teaching you how to make empanadas from Argentina today. Homemade empanada wrappers are usually more pie-crust like, but to save time I usually purchase the dough. I use La SalteƱa brand, which bake up flaky, like a lighter puff pastry.

You can find empanada dough at just about any Latin market in your area, in the freezer section. There are usually two types, "Freir" and "Horno", you want the "Horno" which mean "oven." You can fry the empanadas if you like (pick the "Freir" type) but I don't usually make them that way because I hate to fry. I buy two packages to make two dozen empanadas.

I usually make empanadas when I have meats or vegetables from another meal that I want to use up--like a Sunday pot roast. You can certainly make them with ground beef (very traditional) that you've browned before adding the veggies, or any other meat. Any mix of meat and vegetables will work, feel free to substitute for what you have on hand. If they're already cooked, just dice and fill your wrappers. And no one will stop you if you decide to fill them with all veggies.

Empanada Recipe

2 cups of cooked meat (I used leftover diced turkey)
1/2 onion, diced
Two small potatoes, diced
1 cup small diced celery (about 2-3 stalks)
1 cup small diced carrots (about 2 carrots)
1/2-1 cup of frozen peas
2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup diced olives (optional, black or green)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Herbs and seasonings

Optional: 1 yolk and 1/4 cup cream for an egg wash

Set the wrappers on the counter to thaw (or leave them in the fridge overnight.) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet (about 12") over medium heat and add potatoes. Saute them for 5 minutes, then add the onion, cooking for another 5 minutes until both are softened. I've been known to throw a couple tablespoons of homemade salsa into the mix as a type of sofrito (not specifically Argentinian, but tasty.) Add the celery and carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Salt and pepper the mixture. Toss in the cooked meat until heated through. Season with your favorite herbs or seasonings, like pimenton or dry chimichurri (I'll often use a Sazon Goya seasoning packet, which you can also find at the Latin market.) Really, the mixture should just taste good to you. Remove from heat and put into a large bowl. Add the eggs, olives, and frozen peas. Taste and season with more salt as necessary. 

Set up your wrapping station: a cutting board where you can lay your wrapper on, a small bowl of water, and a parchment-lined sheet pan. 

Using your fingers, wet the edge of the half the wrapper with the water. Fill each wrapper with about 1/4 cup of the filling mixture. You want to fill it up generously, but make sure the filling doesn't touch the edge (makes the edge hard to seal.) Crimp and fold the edges. It doesn't have to be fancy, you just want to make sure they're sealed. Place on the sheet pan. Repeat until you've filled up the pan and you're out of filling*. Lightly poke the top of each empanada with a fork to vent the pies. You can mix one egg yolk with 1/4 cup cream and brush the tops of the empanadas to give them a more golden color, but you don't have to.

Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. They will be hot, so be careful to let them cool slightly before eating. You can refrigerate the extras for several days in foil or tupperware. They're good cold or warm.

*If you run out of filling and still have a couple wrappers, fill them with jam or a little fruit and bake the same way

What do you think? Ready to make empanadas?


Randy said...

Great. Now I'm crying for Argentina.

La Carter said...

Added to my menu planning arsenal. Thanks lady.

~j. said...

I'm relieved that the olives are optional.

Lyle said...

I love empanadas. I've always been afraid to make them myself. Now I'll have to give it a try.

Geo said...


Geo said...

So I made your recipe tonight, and my empanadas weren't quite as gorgeous as yours, but they were tasty. Rob called them "Mexican Cutie Pies." I have to tell you to make at least some of your next sweet batch with Ficoco. OHMYOHMYOHMY.