Argentinian Empanadas

Category, , , , DifficultyIntermediate

Empanadas are small, hand-sized, pockets of dough that are filled with a various, savory filling. They are made by folding the dough around the filling, which can contain beef, chicken, ham, tuna, cheese, spinach, different vegetables, etc. The shape of empanadas is either triangle or a half-moon shape.

The Argentinian empanadas are a versatile dish and every province in Argentina actually has its own version of it. For example, in Buenos Aires, the filling is made with ground beef, chicken, Swiss chard with Béchamel sauce, or cheese and ham.

In Jujuy, the filling is made from llama or goat meat. In Cordoba, they add sweet ingredients like sugar and raisins, to beef, potato, and olives. In Entre Rios, the empanadas are filled with rice soaked in milk. And, so on. You can see how different are the fillings in the different parts of Argentina.

Maybe the most famous empanadas are "Empanada Tucumana" from the Tucuman province. This is the place of the National Empanada Festival which is held every year in September.

They make the empanadas with tripe or chicken, in which they often add olives, peas, potatoes, onions, or vinegar. When it comes to the dough, it is traditionally made with flour and water with the addition of lard.

The word empanada comes from the verb "empanar" which means "bread-wrapped" or "coated in bread" which makes sense because it is basically a tasty filling wrapped around with pastry.

Even though the traditional empanadas have a savory filling, they can also be made with a sweet filling. They can also be fried or baked. Empanadas are popular all across the globe. In the United States, there is a holiday dedicated to this dish - "National Empanada Day" celebrated on April 8.

Empanadas are acceptable as an addition to any meal during the day - breakfast or lunch and even as a snack. However, they can also make the main dish themselves, no additional dishes needed.

Empanadas history

The origins of empanadas are in Spain (Galicia) and Portugal. There is a cookbook called "Llibre del Coch" published in Catalan by Ruperto de Nola in 1520 that contained the recipe for empanadas with the seafood filling.

Empanadas are similar to Italian calzones and both dishes come from the Arabic dish called "samosas" which is a pie with meat filling.

In Spain and Portugal, this dish is a large pie and then cut into smaller pieces. The filling contains pork, tuna, chorizo, sardines in a sauce made usually from tomato, onion, and garlic.

It is believed that empanadas made their first appearance in Argentina in the Spanish immigrants' kitchens. The Spanish (Galician) immigrants in Latin America brought the empanadas with them.

The Spanish colonists carried the empanadas with them, not only to Latin America but also to other parts of the world like the Philippines.

They are also very popular in the Caribbean and Portugal. But, in Argentina, the empanadas were known as the food for the workers because it was so easy to carry and it was fulfilling because it contained meat and pastry.

Today, it is food for everyone (known as fast food) and you can find it in any corner of Argentina, including street food and restaurants. In Argentina, they are served as a main dish or as a starter.

Different types of Argentinian empanadas

Of course, the empanada filling depends on your imagination and taste. But there are some combinations that are commonly used when preparing the Argentinian empanadas.

- Choclo y queso – corn and cheese
- Jamón y queso – ham and cheese
- Pollo – chicken, with the addition of onions and/or eggs
- Capresse – inspired by Caprese salad and it contains Mozzarella cheese, tomato, and basil
- Calabreza – cheese and hot salami
- Carne suave – minced meat with the addition of onions, eggs, or olives
- Carne Picante - spicy version of the meat empanadas
- Queso y cebolla – cheese and onion
- Acelga – Swiss Chard and Ricotta cheese
- Quatro Quesos – four kinds of cheese
- Verdura – spinach in a Béchamel sauce
- Carne cortado a cuchillo – meat empanadas that use knife-cut meat instead of minced meat
- Champignon con queso y Jerez – an interesting combination of mushrooms, cheese, and sherry
- Atún – tuna
- Humita – sweet corn cream

The difference between the Argentinian and Colombian empanadas

The Argentinian empanadas are usually made with wheat flour, but, on the other hand, Colombian empanadas use cornflour to make the dough. Argentinian empanadas can be fried or baked, and Colombian ones are usually fried. They are also often served with hot sauce.

Similar dishes

Catibías are similar to empanadas, except they are made with cassava flour. Pastelitos are also similar, but the dough is lighter than the empanadas dough. There are also similar dishes in other cuisines like a calzone, samosa, pirozhki, knish, pasty, etc.

Tips on how to seal empanadas easily

Empanadas are made from the dough. When you prepare the dough, then you need to make small balls which you will flatten into small, round, dough discs.

To assemble an empanada, you need to place the filling on the dough discs. The amount of filling in one empanada depends on your personal preference.

However, don't overstuff the dough disc because you might not be able to close it properly. How much filling is perfect for one empanada is something that you will learn over time. 

To seal the empanada edges, just press them with your fingers. But, if you are not succeeding at this, you can try to brush the inside of the edges with eggs white, to glue them together. Or you can use the fork top to press against the edges.

To help empanadas seal better, you can try leaving them (after you assemble them) in the fridge for about half an hour before you bake them. And if you want them to have a nice golden color, you can brush them with the whisked egg or egg yolk.

empanadas

Yields1 Serving
Prep Time1 hr 10 minsCook Time20 minsTotal Time1 hr 30 mins

 2 cups All-purpose Flour
 3 oz Butter
  cup Water
 1 tbsp Olive Oil
 2 Chicken Breasts - clean, boneless, cooked (previously boiled with herbs and then shredded)
 1 Large Onion - cut in julienne
 3 Garlic Cloves - finely chopped
 2 Tomatoes - diced
 ½ tsp Oregano
 Salt
 ½ tsp Thyme
 Pepper
 ½ tsp Dried Basil
 1 cup Green Peas
 ½ tsp Ground Cumin
 1 Beaten Egg

1

Empanadas are delicious pastries with meat filling. This dish can be a great main dish or starter since it is easy to serve. When it comes to the filling, it can be any kind of meat mixed with some vegetables. But, my favorite is the chicken filling, made with onion, garlic, and green beans. However, the important thing to emphasize is that you should also make the homemade dough. It makes this dish way tastier. But, making the dough is easy and anyone can do it.

empanadas

Prepare the dough
2

1. Take a bowl and mix the flour, butter, and olive oil
2. Then, knead the ingredients and add the water, little by little
3. After that, add the salt and keep kneading until the dough is uniform
4. Lastly, cover up the bowl and leave for later

dough

Make the chicken filling
3

1. Firstly, take a saucepan and sauté the onion for about two minutes
2. Secondly, add the garlic, cooked chicken, and the herbs
3. Thirdly, cook everything and once the chicken starts browning, add the tomatoes and the green peas
4. Lastly, cook until there is no more liquid, then leave aside to cool, and save for later

chicken in the pan

Fill the empanadas
4

1. Form the dough into small balls and then flatten them
2. Place a full spoon of the chicken filling on each flat ball. Keep in mind to concentrate the filling on the center of the dough, and avoid reaching the edges, so it is easier for you to close it. The oiliness of the filling might prevent two edges of the pastry connecting properly
3. Slightly wet the edge of each pastry, fold in two and then stick the edges together. The shape should resemble a half-moon
4. Beat the egg and then coat each empanada on the top

empanadas dough

Bake the empanadas
5

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. The overall preparation time is about one and a half hours. The number of empanadas depends on how large you make them. But, from this amount of dough, you should be able to make approximately 12 average-sized empanadas.

oven

 

Ingredients

 2 cups All-purpose Flour
 3 oz Butter
  cup Water
 1 tbsp Olive Oil
 2 Chicken Breasts - clean, boneless, cooked (previously boiled with herbs and then shredded)
 1 Large Onion - cut in julienne
 3 Garlic Cloves - finely chopped
 2 Tomatoes - diced
 ½ tsp Oregano
 Salt
 ½ tsp Thyme
 Pepper
 ½ tsp Dried Basil
 1 cup Green Peas
 ½ tsp Ground Cumin
 1 Beaten Egg

Directions

1

Empanadas are delicious pastries with meat filling. This dish can be a great main dish or starter since it is easy to serve. When it comes to the filling, it can be any kind of meat mixed with some vegetables. But, my favorite is the chicken filling, made with onion, garlic, and green beans. However, the important thing to emphasize is that you should also make the homemade dough. It makes this dish way tastier. But, making the dough is easy and anyone can do it.

empanadas

Prepare the dough
2

1. Take a bowl and mix the flour, butter, and olive oil
2. Then, knead the ingredients and add the water, little by little
3. After that, add the salt and keep kneading until the dough is uniform
4. Lastly, cover up the bowl and leave for later

dough

Make the chicken filling
3

1. Firstly, take a saucepan and sauté the onion for about two minutes
2. Secondly, add the garlic, cooked chicken, and the herbs
3. Thirdly, cook everything and once the chicken starts browning, add the tomatoes and the green peas
4. Lastly, cook until there is no more liquid, then leave aside to cool, and save for later

chicken in the pan

Fill the empanadas
4

1. Form the dough into small balls and then flatten them
2. Place a full spoon of the chicken filling on each flat ball. Keep in mind to concentrate the filling on the center of the dough, and avoid reaching the edges, so it is easier for you to close it. The oiliness of the filling might prevent two edges of the pastry connecting properly
3. Slightly wet the edge of each pastry, fold in two and then stick the edges together. The shape should resemble a half-moon
4. Beat the egg and then coat each empanada on the top

empanadas dough

Bake the empanadas
5

Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. The overall preparation time is about one and a half hours. The number of empanadas depends on how large you make them. But, from this amount of dough, you should be able to make approximately 12 average-sized empanadas.

oven

Argentinian Empanadas
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