Empanadas are a popular street food and snack throughout South America, varying greatly from region to region. They are essentially crescent shaped pastries stuffed with a filling; from meat to seafood to cheese… even fruit. They are quite simply delicious! For me, they conjure of memories of my childhood in Paraguay, where we’d have them nearly every day as a pre or post lunch or dinnertime snack. Although we’d usually go out and buy empanadas from a local Empanaderia, they are definitely just as delicious and impressive to cook at home. Great as appetizers when your friends come over.
I have had my fair share of tasty empanadas around South America, (the chilean ones are extremely good!) but today, I thought I’d share the traditional Argentinian empanada, filled with ground beef, egg and olives. It’s close to the Paraguayan empanadas I grew up with, although we would omit the olives. Our most popular are carne y huevo, (beef and egg) jamon y queso (ham and cheese), choclo y queso (corn and cheese). The wonderful thing about empanadas is you can really experiment with any filling you like.
Empanadas can be fried or baked, and depending on what country you are in, you will see how this method varies. I am particularly fond of the fried version, mainly because, one, that’s what I grew up with in Paraguay, and two, they just simply taste so much better fried…as most everything does! Fried empanadas for me, are generally less dry and more crispy. However, if you are frying, they should be eaten pretty quickly after they are cooked, whereas baked ones could probably be left out for longer. In this recipe I am frying my Argentinian empanadas.
Just another note to add, many people are put off by making empanadas at home because it can be a lengthy process, especially if you are making the dough from scratch…which, if you have the time, I definitely recommend you do! However, if you are anything like me, and find yourself to be slightly lazy on occasion, or maybe a little impatient when it comes to waiting to eat food this good …then I would definitely go ahead and buy store bought empanada discs/rounds, that are already prepared. You can usually find them in the frozen pastry section of any speciality or hispanic market. (I live in Santa Monica, CA, and found them at Bay Cities). I believe Goya have their own brand, but I actually found ‘La Salteña’ brand from Argentina, which are great because they sell separate empanada discs para freir (to fry) and para el horno (to bake in the oven), that way you can choose the one you want corresponding to your cooking method.
I would recommend eating your empanadas with chimichurri sauce. A ridiculously good combo!
Argentinean Empanadas de Carne y Huevo
Makes approx 25 empanadas
1-2 Packages of La Salteña/Goya (or homemade) Empanada Shells (defrosted)
4 cups Sunflower oil for frying
1lb ground beef
3 cooked hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
½ cup stuffed olives, roughly chopped
A handful of raisins (optional- I did not add them in this recipe but you can for sweetness)
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp paprika
1/4 tsp of sugar
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
What to do!
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 mins until the onions become translucent.
Add the ground beef. Break it up with a wooden spoon/spatula and cook, stirring until fully browned. Drain off the excess fat.
Mix in the cumin, paprika and sugar. Adjust to taste.
Add in the chopped eggs and olives, carefully mix into the meat mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Lay the empanada rounds on a floured surface.
Place 1 heaped tablespoon of the mixture into the empanada. Don’t overstuff, it will be easier to seal.
To seal the empanadas, dip your fingers in the water and smooth around the inside edge of the empanada disc. (The water acts as a glue for the empanadas to close) Fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. The Argentines use a method called repulgue to seal the edges of their empanadas. It is basically a pretty curl type seal. I have found a good video to show how you do it here. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges.
Heat sunflower oil in a large pan, until very hot, it should reach around 365 degrees F.
Fry 2 empanadas at a time. They will cook and crisp up quickly, they should only take about 1-2 mins. Turn them once so they brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, with chimichurri sauce.