Friday, March 18, 2011

Empanadas Argentinas de Begoña (Argentinian Turnovers)

This is a very special installation of "Cuban Home Cooking" - today we learned how to make a popular and delicious treat from Argentina that has become a staple in Cuban bakeries and restaurants - often eaten for breakfast, lunch or as a "merienda" or snack.

Our "teacher" was Begoña Cabili, a friend's mother-in-law, born in the Basque region of Spain who emigrated to Argentina with her brother and sister when she was 18 years old. There the Basque beauty met and married Roberto, a dashing Argentine of Turkish descent and she learned to make Argentinian dishes. For the last 40+ years they've lived in Miami with their children and grandchildren. And that's how she came to be our friend and teacher!

We made - and ate! - beef empanadas and chicken empanadas. The procedure is the same, but in the pictures you'll see the beef preparation. Let's do it!

The Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef (or chicken) - well separated
6 oz roasted sweet peppers - minced
15 plain olives - chopped
1/2 large white onion - finely chopped
2 hard boiled eggs - chopped
1¼ ounces raisins (optional)
4 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil
Paprika to taste
Salt to taste
20 sheets of flaky filo turnover dough for oven

Note - Begoña uses the brand "La Salteña" which she buys at a local Argentinian deli. Any phyllo dough pastry should work - but if possible try to get it for "the oven" or baking, rather than for frying.

Note - The dough comes frozen and can be stored in the freezer up to 6 months before use. Before using thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Note - Keep the dough refrigerated until use and even while working keep the dough sheets as cool as possible.

The Process
This recipe makes 20 empanadas

  1. Preheat oven to 350º.

  2. In a skillet sweat onions in 4 Tblsp of oil on low temperature until they are tender.

  3. Add the meat to the onions. Then add salt to taste and add paprika to the desired color.

  4. Drain, rinse and dry the roasted sweet peppers, and then mince them.

  5. Chop the eggs and the olives.

  6. Add raisins, olives, peppers and eggs to the meat and mix well.

  7. Sample a bit and add salt to taste.

  8. Set the mixture aside to cool.

  9. Cover baking sheets with tin foil and lightly grease with melted butter. Take the dough out of the refrigerator but keep cool and covered as you work with each one.

  10. Place one dough disc on a hard surface - marble is ideal as it keeps the dough cool. Rim the edge with enough water to make it moist - this will help seal it.

  11. Place one tablespoon of the meat mixture in the disc and fold the dough over it.

  12. Crimp the edges starting at one end and working around.

Note - If you're making different types of empanadas (meat and chicken for example) crimp the edges differently to distiguish them from each other. You can use a fork for one type, shell shape for another, etc.)
  1. Brush each turnover with egg yolk to add color to the pastry.

  2. Place in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.

  3. Check periodically to ensure they are browning but not burning.
Note - The empanadas can be made and frozen unbaked for up to 6 weeks. Thaw them before baking.

We enjoyed the empanadas with some wine and good conversation and Begoña made delicious baked apples for dessert. And yay! there were enough for all of us to take some empanadas home!

¡Buen provecho!


Marketa said...

I could not attend this lesson and I couldn't wait to try them at home! A few comments:
Red roasted peppers are mostly called Pimientos on jar labels. While it's a "duh" moment for some of you, I didn't know that.
Our Publix sells the argentinian empanada dough in the Ethnic frozen section.
You said that chicken empanada procedure is the same, but they don't sell ground chicken (at least not organic one). So I bought chicken tenders, slightly fried them on both sides, then minced them, and then followed the rest of the recipe.
Anyway, I baked both beef and chicken empanadas and they FLEW! In less then 24 hours all eighteen empanadas were gone. They were delicious.

Cristina said...

I found ground chicken (not organic) in Winn-Dixie. You may have to ask but they should have some. You can always buy the tenders and ask them to grind it for you.
I baked 40 empanadas this past Saturday. 20 chicken, 10 meat and 10 meat and chorizo. All I did was add some ground chorizo I had left over from another dish to the meat recipe and stuffed the last 10. This morning there are only 10 left.
I will easily make this again and again and again.

Laura Amador said...

I recently married into a Cuban family. One of my favorite things about this is their cooking! Yum! I love following your blog and learning new things to experiment with!

- Laura Amador

Mamatkamal said...

This looks so delicious and thanks for step-by-step instructions. Very interesting ingredients!

Anonymous said...


Any dough recipe to follow? Can't find La Salteña brand in
Singapore :(

Also can I omit the beef and add mushroom instead?