As we prepared for our two weeks in Buenos Aires, I’d already decided that I wanted to learn how to prepare empanadas de carne – pastry pockets filled with ground beef. Different from their Colombian cousins, these are baked, not fried. My cousin, Danny, has lived in Argentina for two years, but he assured me that he was the last person I’d want teaching me to cook, so I took to Couchsurfing.com to find a local who would be willing to play host.
Enter Eduardo. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Eduardo is now a part-time Spanish instructor, and immediately reached out, letting me know he’d be happy to have us over for a night of cooking and language practice. When we arrived, we took a walk to the local grocery store, where we picked up all of the necessary ingredients, along with a couple boxes of Argentina’s finest wine.
The filling for these empanadas is super easy, and can be adjusted to taste, depending on your preference. We actually added the wine to Eduardo’s recipe because we preferred a bit more acid. We also reduced the amount of olive by about a quarter in future batches.
One thing about making empanadas in Argentina is that everyone uses store-bought wrappers, which removes the ever-complicated baking process. We preferred the Hojaldradas style by La Saltena. Criolla was our second favorite. If we were going to make these at home, we’d need to find a good recipe and make them ourselves.
- (1) lb ground beef
- (4) Roma tomatoes
- (2) white onions, diced
- (4) eggs, hard boiled and chopped
- (1) cup green olives, chopped
- (1) egg beaten, for egg wash
- (1/2) cup red wine
- extra virgin olive oil
- tomato paste
- salt & pepper
- To peel tomatoes, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Cut an X shape on the bottom of each tomato (just through the skin) and drop into the water for 15-20 seconds. Remove, let cool, and skin should easily come off.
- Chop into small pieces and set aside.
- Using the same water, hard boil the eggs as you normally would. When finished, cool, peel and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
- Set the stove to medium, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan, and saute onions until lightly caramelized.
- Add ground beef to the pan and cook until browned through, breaking the meat into small pieces. Season with cumin.
- When meat is done, add wine, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes, and simmer until the liquid is reduced enough to bind the mixture together, but not gone completely.
- Add the eggs and olives to the meat mixture and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed, but be careful with salt, since the olives add saltiness as well.
- Let the meat mixture cool down completely so that the liquids have an opportunity to thicken.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- To fill the empanada, place a spoon-full of the meat mixture in the center of your wrapper. Dip a finger in water and lightly moisten the entire outside edge. Fold one side over the other, forming a half circle, and pinch the edges together. Starting at one corner, lightly pull the dough and then fold it over itself. Work your way around the curved edge, repeating this process, to create a sort of braid effect. If you’re confused, see the video below.
- To make egg wash, beat one egg and mix with a 2 tablespoons of water. Place empanadas on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush egg wash over the top of each one.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden on top.
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