¡La búsqueda de la empanada perfecta!

8 Oct

Stefanie Alonzi

Many Hispanics will all claim that the empanada was invented in their country and that they make the best ones; however, after sampling many, I can truly say that the best empanada comes from Chile. From “la casa de la empanada” in Pichilemu on the coast of Chile, to my boyfriend’s mother’s kitchen, Chile definitely gets top points for variety not only in fillings but also in types of dough.  You will never eat the same empanada twice and you can never eat just one!  There is a special art to making them and of all the people I have asked, no one seems to follow a recipe, they just know.  It’s more a case of a mother passing down her secrets to her daughter than measuring out the ingredients exactly.  The best way to make an empanada is in the kitchen with Chilean women, gossiping while they knead the dough.  If that is not available to you, crank up the reggaeton and get into the Chilean spirit bailando as you go!  Therefore, by watching and guessing quantities and using different recipes, I would like to introduce to you the traditional empanada horneada (in the oven) filled with pino…

Ingredients (for around 15 empanadas)
½ kilo of stewing beef cut into very small chunks
½ kilo of plain flour
2 big onions finely chopped
2 spoonfuls of baking powder
2 tablespoons of dried chilli
1 teaspoon of salt
Oregano to taste
1/8 of a bar of lard melted
4 spoonfuls of flour
1 cup of hot milk
1 ½ cups of hot water
1 egg white
1 beef stock cube
3 hard boiled eggs
Olives
Salt and pepper
Oil for frying

Preparation- meat filling, or “pino” (Should be done the day before you make the dough)

  • Boil the onions until soft and then strain making sure there is no liquid left.
  • Put the chopped meat, chili, oregano, salt and pepper into a frying pan and mix well.
  • Add the onions.
  • Sprinkle the flour over the mixture and mix well.
  • Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water and then add it to the pino mixture.  The key to making good empanadas is not having too much liquid in the filling therefore keep on the heat to burn off excess juice.
  • Take it off the fire and leave it to cool.

Preparation- dough

  • Mix the flour, the baking powder and the salt together.  Experts can do it on a clean surface but it is a lot easier to use a big bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the melted lard and hot milk slowly whilst mixing with the other hand.
  • Gather the mixture together and place it on a well-floured surface.
  • Next comes the “amasar” part of the recipe, i.e. using your muscles.  The dough should be kneaded for a good 15 minutes, adding more flour to the surface as needed, so that it becomes smooth and stretchy.  They say that good empanada dough should sound like it is passing gas every time you knead it!
  • Roll the dough into one long piece and then divide into equal parts.
  • Cover the dough with a dishcloth while you make each empanada.
  • Take one piece of dough at a time and then roll it out keeping a thickness of 2 or 3 millimeters or the dough will tear.

Preparation- empanadas

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Once you have rolled out a couple of pieces of dough, put 1 tablespoon of the pino mixture in the center of each circle.  Then add a quarter of one of the boiled eggs and 1 olive.
  • Next, wet the border of the circle with a little water and fold the empanada so that it joins at the edges.  Press down hard with your fingers to seal the empanada all the way round.  If there is excess dough cut it away with a sharp knife.
  • Then fold the edges over all the way round and press down with the back of a fork to seal it tighter.  (If the empanadas open just add a little more water and repeat closing process).
  • Paint each empanada with the egg white and then pierce a small hole in the center of each so that they don’t explode.
  • Put them onto a baking tray and leave them to cook for around 40 minutes.
  • Serve hot and enjoy your hard work!

This recipe can be modified to make different types of empanadas.  Add hot water to the dough instead of the milk in order to make empanadas fritas (fried).  The recipe is exactly the same but don’t paint the empanadas with egg whites and deep fry them for around 5 minutes until cooked right through instead of putting them in the oven.  You can also put anything you want inside an empanada.  Favorites are chicken and cheese, mixed seafood, salmon and if you’re brave, llama!  Good luck, and happy empanada-ing!

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