How to make Argentine Empanadas
Though the empanada in itself is pretty straight forward fare, there are a few uniquely Argentine ingredients that are bound to through you for a loop. First and foremost, let’s talk about the egg. Hardboiled egg is practically omnipresent in traditional Argentine kitchens – you can toss it into a shepherd’s pie, pile it on top of pizza, stir it into a rice salad, and stuff chunks of it into an empanada. If you’re not the kind of person that hungers for hardboiled eggs, leave them out when you make this recipe – but never confess such an act of blasphemy to an Argentine mamá.
The second surprise that is likely to raise an eyebrow or two, is that traditional Argentine empanadas always include green olives. Sometimes they are nicely sliced and diced, and sometimes they get tossed in whole. That’s right – pit and all. Tiny culinary landmines waiting to jostle lose a tooth or two.
Dental dangers aside, Argentine empanadas make for a succulent snack, appetizer, or main dish. They are filled with lightly spiced meat, sautéed onion, a few surprise ingredients and are best enjoyed piping hot. The secret to perfect Argentine empanadas is to include massive quantities of diced onions – truly, ignore your instincts and simply follow the recipe. The onions will keep the filling flavorful and moist, eliminating the necessity to include cooking fat.
When it comes to enjoying your delicious empanadas, put the fork and knife away – there’s absolutely no need for them. If you want to eat it in proper Argentine form, grab an empanada and a paper napkin, then wrap half the empanada in the napkin as though you were tucking in a baby (think: swaddling cloth).
Traditional Argentine Empanada Recipe
2 Tb. Vegetable oil
7 medium yellow onions, diced
2 pounds ground beef
1 Tb. Crushed red pepper
2 Tb. Ground cumin
3 Tb. Sweet paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups of chopped green olives
3 eggs, hard boiled and sliced
Empanada dough discs
1 egg beaten (egg wash)
1. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable over high heat. Add the onion and sauté until fragrant and slightly translucent.
2. Add the ground beef and sauté until slightly browned.
3. Toss in the spices, salt and pepper, and cook until the meat is cooked through. Remove from heat.
4. Stir in the green olives and sliced hard-boiled egg and transfer the mixture into an un-covered baking dish to chill in the refrigerator until only slightly warm to the touch.
5. Once slightly cooled, remove the filling from the refrigerator and heap a rounded spoonful of filling into the center of each empanada disc. You want the empanada to be full, but ensure that no meat or juices escape the edges.
6. Fold the disc in half, sealing the edge by pinching both sides together. You can then create a fancy border, or leave it plain.
7. Arrange the empanadas on a greased baking pan and paint lightly with egg wash.
8. Bake at 375˚F until golden brown.
9. Serve piping hot and teach your guests to wrap their napkins like a swaddling cloth.
If you’re feeling brave, try tossing in a cup of seedless raisins to give the empanadas an intriguing blend of salty & sweet. Other variations include diced green onion, and diced boiled potato (generally found in the northwestern regions of Argentina, known as empanadas salteñas).
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