29 July 2008
Last time I made empanadas, nearly fifty of them,
Rolling, cutting, filling, folding. From my mothers old Argentine cookbook, half in English, half in Spanish, and torn across the cover.
The traditional way, although I forgot the hardboiled egg. I always do. But please don't skip the olives and raisins. It sounds odd, but it gives that sweet salty balance.
I froze them ahead of time, and then baked them. So that I could look like one of the hosts I always want to be, the one who serves things with ease.
They disappeared so fast, into the stomachs of hungry guests, that I didn't even get a picture. So you'll never know how beautiful they looked on their platter, all of them, with their fork-pleated edges.
Except for this one. That I had to hide and save, just for you. Or really, for me. Because I'm afraid I ate it too.
Though it would be completely sacrilegious, for vegetarians you can make these with an imitation meat (like crumbled soy protein sausage) or chopped mushrooms. And if you are pressed for time, I won't hold it against you if you use purchased pie crusts, pie crust mix, or puff pastry in place of making your own pastry. Adapted from Asi Cocinan Los Argentinos.
1 recipe shortcut pastry of choice
3/4 lb ground beef
1/4 cup lard or butter
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small sweet green pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon each oregano, cumin, paprika, and parsley
2 heaping tablespoons seedless raisins, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green olives
1 large hardboiled egg, chopped
1. Heat fat in a large skillet. Add the scallions, garlic, and pepper and saute until softened. Add the tomato paste and the spices and stir to combine, at this point I usually add a few spoonfuls of water to get everything to combine. Add the beef, stirring to break it up, and cook until no longer pink. Remove from the heat, add the raisins, olives, and chopped egg. Taste for seasoning (remember the olives are brined, so salt is usually not needed).
2. Roll out your pastry and cut circles with a biscuit cutter or inverted glass. Have a small bowl of water at your side. Place a small spoonful of filling in the middle of each circle, moisten the inner edges of the pastry and fold to seal. Crimp by twisting the edges or with the tines of a fork. Avoid over-stuffing the empanadas. Refrigerate or freeze empanadeas until ready to bake.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Spread empanadas on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and some of their filling is oozing out. Frankly, I've never timed this exactly but I'd guess 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of your empanadas.