Thursday, April 10, 2014

Matilde's Classic Beef Empanadas

From one of my very favorite bedtime-reading cookbooks, Gran Cocina Latina, by Maricel E. Presilla (Thanks, Mom!). I by-golly LOVE these empanadas. I have made them twice (with generous help and slight variability). Argentine brother Ignatius was like 'eh, it was pretty ok.' I haven't quite gotten the knack of making them juicy enough for him. Also, Argentine brother Ignatius generally shows his approbation in an 'eh, what's up doc' kind of a way, so who knows? Anyway, I LOVE them.

The first time I assembled them as written, with a wedge of egg and an olive. The next time, on Ignatius' suggestion, both eggs and olives got chopped and incorporated. I liked it both ways. The consensus of the group was, if I remember correctly, wedge-and-olive; I think I will argue on the side of incorporation. Also, I like cheap black olives, and no foodie will talk me out of that love.

Maricel Presilla provides a recipe for dough, which I am sure is delicious, but she also includes the note that "you can use 30 La Saltena frozen dough disks for flaky empanadas (hojaldradas)" so I do that.

Makes 30.

30 La Saltena frozen dough disks for flaky empanadas (hojaldradas)

8 oz ground beef
1 T plus 1 t salt
2 medium white onions (about 1 lb), peeled and finely chopped (about 2 c)
2 T butter
2 T corn oil
1 1/2 t freshly rendered suet or lard (I think I used bacon fat both times)
1 1/2 t dried oregano
1 1/2 t sugar
1 1/2 t AP flour
1 t black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 t aji molido or crushed red pepper flakes
30 green or black olives, drained and pitted
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into 8 wedges each
2 large eggs, beaten with 1/2 t water, for glaze

Making the filling: Boil 2 qts water and 1 T salt over medium heat. Reduce to low, add onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes. This will stink up the house. Empanadas are worth it. Drain.

Return onions to the pot, add the meat, 2 T butter, oil, suet/lard/fat, oregano, sugar, flour, both peppers, and the remaining 1 t salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through but has not browned-- it must remain juicy. Taste for salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Cover the filling with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight.

Assembling: Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 F.

Check the filling for seasoning and salt if needed. Place the olives and eggs on a plate.

Lay one dough disk on a work surface and place 1 T filling in the center. Top with 1 olive and 1 egg wedge. Fold into a half-moon, and pinch the middle of the edges together. Seal the empanada by pleating it-- the true decorative pleat is called a repulgo, and my brothers can do it and I cannot. They will be delicious anyway. Place on baking sheets at least 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with all empanadas. Brush with egg wash.

Baking: Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, switching position of baking sheets after about 12 minutes, until the empanadas are golden and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom. Serve hot, she says, but I love them cold for lunch.


Anonymous said...

What's the dough recipe, if I'm not sure where to find the frozen dough disks?

Rebekka said...

Kamaliaetalia, I will try to remember to post it when I am again at home. Are you too far north, too far away from South America? :)

Jeff Ting said...

Thank you! I would like a copy of the dough recipe also.

Rebekka said...

I will warn you, the dough recipe calls for stranger ingredients than just the frozen dough disks.


2 c water
2 T salt
5 1/2 c "extra-fine flour, preferably Argentinean Blanca Rosa OOO, or cake flour"
1 c self-rising cake flour
1 c cornstarch, plus about 1/2 c for dusting
4 T powdered milk
1 t baking powder
1/2 c freshly rendered suet or lard, melted
4 T butter

Place water and salt in small bowl and stir to dissolve, set aside.

Combine flours, cornstarch, powdered milk, baking powder. Add fat and cut into the flour mixture till it resembles fine meal. Stir in half the salt water, then mix, adding more salt water little by little, until a rough dough forms.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hr.


Divide into 10 equal pieces. Roll one piece on a clean, lightly floured surface into a 7 by 11 inch rectangle. Brush with butter, dust with cornstarch. Fold lengthwise in half and roll out to a 1/16 inch thickness. Using a 4 1/4 inch round cutter, cut out 3 disks; discard scraps. Lightly dust with cornstarch, stack, cover with plastic, and set aside. repeat with remaining dough.

Proceed as with recipe above.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. That dough recipe is quite complex! I think I will just use the cream cheese-based empanada dough from the Mexican cookbook my Mom gave me for my last birthday. I made empanadas with that dough and this filling, and they were quite tasty.