Argentine Empanadas

I love empanadas….

I found this recipe in Saveur years ago and held on to the article because it’s all about Argentina. I like savory and for some reason I thought of empanadas. I had what I needed.

The recipe is pretty straightforward and simple. I omitted raisins in the filling because I never really liked them and most of the best empanadas I had didn’t have them either (although it is indeed, authentic). I also omitted the bell pepper because I didn’t have one.

an easy buttery dough
filling: beef, potatoes, onions, egg, scallions, olives, spices
mixing the scallions, egg, olives, and potatoes into the cooked beef, onions, and spices

The dough is super easy to make, but requires a couple of hours for refrigeration. You definitely won’t want to skip that step or else you’ll have a gooey mess and, if you’re anything like me, a lot of swearing. The prep for the filling requires a little time to boil the eggs and potato. Just do your mise en place and it will be a lot less hectic. I subbed beef bouillon for the chicken bouillon and instead of diced beef shoulder I used organic ground beef – just what was handy at the time. The recipe said to divvy up the dough into about 12 golf ball sized rounds. I had 26 rounds and still about 20% leftover filling.

roll the rounds into 5-inch discs
add a heaping spoonful of filling
fold the dough over and rope pinch the edges
ready for baking

They baked up very nicely considering they were baked and not deep fried. I alway have this struggle between authentic recipes and slightly more healthy versions. For instance, true empanadas are deep fried in lard. In fact, the recipe calls for lard, but I used butter which in some odd way seems healthier? Maybe not. I just can’t bring myself to purchase a block of lard – not yet anyway. The filling is flavorful and spicy, but not chemical hot spicy because Argentines fear spicy. You should have seen the Argentine grad students during our annual chili cookoff…


dough :
1 cup water
3/4 cup lard (I used butter)
2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp salt
pinch paprika

filling :
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
1/2 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced (I omitted)
1/2 chicken bouillon cube (I used beef bouillon paste)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 lb. boneless beef shoulder, finely diced (I used ground beef)
1 small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled (I used 2 yukon golds)
1/3 cup raisins (I omitted)
8 green Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and chopped

For the dough: heat water and lard (butter) in a medium saucepan over medium heat until lard (butter) has melted. Mix flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center and sprinkle a pinch of paprika in the well. Pour a little of the warm liquid in and stir with fingertips to make a wet paste. Pour in remaining liquid and work the flour into the dough with your hand until you get a wet, oily dough. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the onions, bell peppers (omitted), bouillon, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin, and cook until onions are soft. Add beef, season to taste with salt, and cook until beef is browned. Place filling in a large bowl and when cooled, add potatoes, raisins (omitted), olives, scallions, and egg. Mix.

Preheat oven to 400F. Tear off pieces of dough to roll about 12 (24) golf-sized balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on lightly floured surface into 5-inch circles. Place 3 tbsp of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold over and press edges firmly to seal. Rope pinch the edges tightly. Place empanadas on cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Makes one or two dozen (depending on the size you make).

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