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Argentina Empanadas (Criollas)

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Traditional Argentina Empanadas are delicious.  If you have ever tried empanadas from another country, don’t judge these ones until you’ve tried them because they are quite different and superior to other countries’ empanadas (if you ask me).  Since you have to put them together one by one, it can be a fun family or group activity to make these.   The most enjoyable part, of course, it eating them.   Don’t feel overwhelmed and convince yourself that these are difficult to make: it’s just a meat filling with some seasonings wrapped up in dough, but they taste like something extraordinary. 

Ingredients

  • 2.2 pounds of ground beef
  • 3.3 pounds of diced onions (it seems like a lot, but after they cook down you don’t notice them and they are essential for an authentic flavor)
  • 1/4 T pepper
  • 1 T. salt (coarsely ground is better)
  • 1/2 T smoked paprika (it’s best if it isn’t sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 T ground chili pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 T oregano
  • Two dashes of sugar
  • 6 – 8 hard boiled eggs
  • Green olives, diced (optional, but traditional and yummy)
  • 2 raw eggs, beaten
  • 4 – 5 dozen empanada discos (Purchase at a latino market.  If you are going to bake them, be sure to get “criollas” or “hojaldre” or “para horno.” If you are going to fry them, get “para freir.”  La Salteña is an Argentina brand that is easy to find in Utah, but  other brands are probably good too.  Later on I’ll post a recipe for the dough.)

Instructions 

  1. Hard boil 6 -8 eggs.  Cool, peel, and cube.  The amount is adjustable depending on your tastes.
  2. Dice the onions (can use a food processor).  Heat 3 T of olive oil in a deep frying pan.    Sauté onions, covered, on medium-high temperature until transparent and soft.
  3. When the onions are transparent and soft, add the ground beef and mix together.  Cover.  Occasionally stir the mixture until the meat is cooked through.
  4. Add the seasonings: 1/4 T black pepper, 1/2 T smoked paprika, 1/2 T ground chili powder, 2 T oregano, 1/2 tsp cumin, 2 dashes sugar, and about 1 T salt.  Remember that these measurements are (good) estimates: add some, taste the mixture, and add more if you think it will taste better.
  5. After the seasonings are well mixed into the meat, mix in the cubed, hard-boiled eggs and the chopped green olives (optional).  It is ideal to let the meat cool for a few hours or over night in order to make it easier to put the empanadas together, but not required.
  6. To put the empanadas together, place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of a disc, wet your finger in a bowl of water and moisten the edge of the disc, then fold it over as though you are folding it in half with the meat inside and press the edges together.  Don’t put too much filling, or it will be difficult to close well.  Now you can either press the edges together with a fork (there is a more traditional way to do it too, but I can’t figure out how to describe that and the fork method accomplishes the task. . . ).  Make sure the empanada is well closed so that it doesn’t burst open while cooking.
  7. Place the filled empanadas on a greased baking sheet or a baking stone.  Brush beaten egg on top of the empanadas.  Cook in a hot 400°F oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.   Or, you can deep fry them.
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