If you've been reading my blog then you'll know that I really love empanadas - one of Argentina's specialities. After ordering them many times from the delivery companies in Buenos Aires, I thought I'd have a go at making them myself. Well, here's a summary of the process and the outcome. Enjoy!
If you're in Argentina then there's no need to worry about making the pastry as it comes in handy packs at the supermarket like the ones shown here.
I found three types of tapas para empanadas - "hojaldradas" and "criollas" (both for the oven) and "para fritar" (to deep fry). We chose the oven varieties since they're more traditional (some restaurants cook empanadas in wood-burning ovens - sort of like a pizza oven).
We also decided to try out two recipes - a simple one (jamón y roquefort and one that requires a little more preparation (em>carne suave).
Empanadas de Jamón y Roquefort
When I said that this recipe was simple, I wasn't joking!
Simply put a slice of blue cheese and a slice of ham (or diced ham) into the round empanada tapas and wrap them up [see below] ready for cooking.
Empanadas de Carne Suave
For the carne suave (meat) empanadas, we did the following:
Mix together vegetable oil, 3 onions, 2 spring onions, half a green pepper, salt, pepper and mince meat in a saucepan and cook the mixture briefly until the meat changes colour.
Remove the mixture from the head and mix in a touch of ají molido, pimentón dulce and comino then leave it to stand (preferably for a few hours).
Add in some chopped green olives and sultanas or pieces of hard-boiled egg, put the mince mixture into the empanada tapas and wrap them up [see below] ready for cooking.
Wrapping the empanadas
First dab a touch of water on one inside edge of the tapa to make sure it will stick, then fold it over to make a semi-circle with the filling inside.
Press the edges firmly to make sure they are fixed together then twist or press them in a special way to both reinforce the edges and make a pretty pattern at the same time.
This particular part (twisting the edges of the empanada) seems to be a bit of an artform, as when you order empanadas for delivery every different flavour has been "decorated" in a different way. Some are twisted, some are pressed, some are folded, some have indents in one or both sides, and so on... I think you get the picture.
I have to admit, I wasn't the best at twisting the edges of the empanada. Luckily my wife took care of that and she really made it look easy.
For the rest of us there's an easier way and the results are just as impressive - just slide a fork along the edges in an outward motion. It's child's play!
Let them cook...
Ok, once you've filled a dozen or so empanadas put them onto a greased baking tray and insert it into a pre-warmed oven (medium heat). Unfortunately I can't give you an exact cooking time here as it mostly depends on which pastry you have used.
Basically you should leave the empanadas in the oven until they've turned a golden brown colour and the pastry looks slightly crunchy.
When they're ready, remove them from the oven and leave them to cool for a minute or two. That's it! And it worked! Both of the recipes were very delicious and worked first time round.
You can see from the last photo that the two types of pastry we used resulted in very different looking empanadas. The hojaldradas were browner and flakier and the criollas looked better but were maybe a little firmer than the empanadas I've tasted from the delivery chains. Still, all-in-all I'd call the exercise a success!
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