Empanadas are a popular snack throughout South America. They can be found baked or deep-fried and stuffed with a variety of sweet or savoury fillings. This version of these little hand-held pies originates from the Mendoza province in the mid-west of Argentina, bordering Chile. They are filled with spiced meat, egg and olives and are then baked in the oven or on the barbecue.
- 60 g (2 oz) butter
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked hot paprika
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- ¼ cup (60 ml/2 fl oz) olive oil, plus extra for greasing
- 400 g (14 oz) beef sirloin, trimmed and finely diced
- 2 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ cup (90 g/3¼ oz) pitted green olives, roughly chopped
- 3 spring onions (scallions), green part only, sliced
- 2 tbsp finely chopped oregano leaves
- chimichurri, to serve
- 80 g (3 oz) butter, cubed
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 cups (450 g/1 lb) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, plus extra for brushing
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 15 minutes
Chilling time 1 hour
To make the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan over low-medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the cumin, paprika and chilli flakes and cook until fragrant. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Return the pan to the heat, add the olive oil and increase the heat to high. Cook the beef, in batches, for 3–4 minutes each, or until browned all over. Remove from the heat.
Combine the beef with the onion mixture in a medium-sized bowl and set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly.
Add the egg, olives, spring onion and oregano and stir to combine. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cooled.
Meanwhile, to make the pastry, put ¾ cup (185 ml/6½ fl oz) water in a small saucepan over low–medium heat. Add the butter and salt and heat until the butter melts and the salt has dissolved. Remove from the heat.
Place the flour in a medium-sized bowl, add the water mixture and the egg and stir to form a rough dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 2–3 minutes to form a smooth elastic dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), or use a gas barbecue fitted with a lid. Lightly grease two baking trays with olive oil.
To assemble the empanadas, cut the dough in half (keep one half in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out). Roll out the remaining dough on a lightly floured work surface to 3 mm (¼ inch) thick all over. Using a 10 cm (4 inch) round pastry cutter, cut about 30 round circles.
Divide half of the filling evenly among the circles, placing tablespoonfuls in the centre of each. Lightly moisten the pastry edges with water and fold in half to enclose the filling and form a half-moon shape. Pinch along the edge to seal and enclose the filling. Arrange the empanadas on the prepared baking trays and brush the tops with the lightly beaten egg. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling until all the mixture is used.
Cook the empanadas in the oven for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are using a gas barbecue, turn off the middle burners and place the trays on top to cook. Serve the empanadas hot with the chimichurri on the side.
Recipe and image from South American Grill, Rachael Lane (Hardie Grant, $34.95, hbk)