Children love “pocket-portable” food and if you make these empanadas with them, they are a guaranteed to be a hit. They can be filled with virtually anything – catering to the pickiest of eaters. Even sweet things like caramelized bananas and chocolate 🙂. An empanada kitchen playdate is super fun and we have the kids design their own empanadas, give them creative names and roll and fill their own dough. While the empanadas bake, the munchkins get some play time before snack or dinner.
The dough recipe below is fantastic, but if you aren’t in the mood for making dough, store bought is just fine. Lucca Deli in the Mission stocks some pretty good empanada dough disks in the back. These empanadas freeze really well. Throw some par-baked ones on a tray to freeze and then store them in baggies. To re-heat just bake for a little longer, and you have a really yummy school lunch.
Empanada Dough from Gourmet
- 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
- Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)
- Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together.
- Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour
Baked Meat-Filled Empanadas
This is a really delicious and traditional Argentinian filling from the NY Times. One of our favorites. You can leave out the raisins or olives, if you desire.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lard (we use olive oil)
- 1 cup fine-chopped onion
- 1/2 pound lean beef, minced
- Salt and fresh black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
- Empanada dough (see recipe above)
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
- 12 pitted cured black olives, sliced
- 30 raisins
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1. Melt lard in a 10- to 12-inch skillet. Add onion and sauté on medium until it barely starts to color. Add beef. Cook until ingredients are lightly browned. Add salt and pepper to taste, cumin, paprika and hot sauce. Set aside. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Roll dough as thin as possible. Cut 6-inch circles. Scraps can be re-rolled one time. Place some meat mixture on one half of each circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border around filling. Top with a slice of egg, some olive pieces and a few raisins. Brush egg on empty side of circle, fold dough over to make a half-circle and crimp edges. Traditional squared empanadas can be made by folding an inch or so of each of the pointed ends of the half-circle over to make straight sides, then folding up the rounded bottom to square off the empanada.
3. Arrange empanadas on a baking sheet. Squared empanadas should be placed with folded side down. Bake 10 minutes. Turn empanadas over, bake 5 minutes longer, until lightly browned on both sides. Allow to cool briefly before serving.
Yield: 8 to 10 large empanadas.