Cooking Exercise Empanadas Argentinas


When I travel to South America I find “empanadas” everywhere, from Uruguay to Chile, Argentina, Bolivia…pretty much all the Spanish speaking countries. In fact, according to the Spanish Royal Academy the verb “empanar” literally means “put a stuffing into a dough”. Tradition has it that the Greeks and the Persians had a similar recipe, centuries before Christ. In Spain, some believe that it was brought there by the Arabs. Even the Italian stuffed fresh pasta, such as ravioli, might have the same roots as well as the Chinese dumplings.

From Spain, these recipe invaded the so called “new world” and it adjusted itself to the ingredients available in each region

Do I have to fry or to bake the empanadas?

In most of the cases the empanadas are baked, although in some areas of South America empanadas are usually fried. It’s basically up to your personal taste. Me, I prefer them baked.

Home made empanadas Argentinas – Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

The best Empanadas I had so far during my roaming in South America are those from Argentina, where a huge variety of them is available: the empanadas Salteñas, the Tucumanas, the Cordobesas, the Sanjuaninas and the Mendocinas just to mention some of them.

The best I had, however, was from a little village called Humauaca, in the Province of Jujuy. I was going out of a local market I visited and I spotted an old woman just outside the market gate, sat on a low stool and with a straw basket in her hand, covered with a very colourful cloth. I asked her what she was doing there and she didn’t reply: she lifted the cloth, put her hand into the basket and she presented me with the most delicious empanada I ever had. Home made by herself. Therefore, don’t ask me any recommendation for the best place to eat empanadas as, the best ones are usually home made.

Vegetable market in Humauaca – Photo by Gabriele Merlo

Is there a specific stuffing for Empanadas?

Definitely not. The more you travel in Argentina, the more stuffings you discover spanning from beef based stuffing to vegetarian options.

What I present you today is my personal interpretation of empanadas Argentinas. Easy and tasty. Try them and let me know if you liked my personal empanadas recipe.

Ingredients (for approximately 20 empanadas)

For the dough

  • 250 grams of wheat flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60 grams of butter
  • 1 glass of milk (better to use whole milk but low fat mil would work also)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For the stuffing:

  • 250 grams of chicken breast
  • 2 tablespoons of Olive oil
  • 1 big onion (better a blond onion)
  • 1 big carrot
  • 100 grams of bacon
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika (I use the Spanish pimento̕n picante but paprika would work as well)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • ½ glass of water
Home made empanadas Argentinas – photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Procedure

For the dough:

Put the wheat flour on a wooden board and give it the shape of a volcano. Add sugar, salt, the yolk and the melted butter in the crater and start mixing the ingredients, then add the milk little by little (not too much at the same time or the dough will get too sticky) and keep on mixing with your hand until the dough will achieve a good consistency and elasticity. Add some wheat flour if you feel the dough is getting sticky. When the dough is ready, wrap it with a film and put it in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes.

For the stuffing:

Chop the chicken breast, the bacon, the onion and the carrot into small pieces using a knife. Put a frying pan on the fire with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of pimento̕n picante (or paprika) and let it heat a bit, then add the onion and the carrot and let if mildly fry for a couple of minutes, then add the then add the chicken and let it roast for a bit. Now, pour in the pan a glass of white wine and let it evaporate without mixing, then add a table spoon of tomato paste, ½ glass of water, mix well and let the water evaporate. Your stuffing is ready.

Wall paintings in Humauaca – Photo by Gabriele Merlo

Finalisation

Take the dough from the fridge, put some flour on the board and roll the dough out with the help of a wooden pin until it reaches the right thickness. The thinner, the better. You should now be able to make approximately 20 circles of dough using a round cutter.

Take each one of them. Put a tablespoon of stuffing in the middle and close them. Brush them with egg yolk and put in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 °C

Serve them warm with a glass of Malbec wine from the Province of Salta.

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