Conquering the Empanada

Conquering the Empanada

In 2008 my family escaped to sunny Argentina for Christmas. And as we traveled we feasted on beef, beef and more beef – but we also managed to eat our fair share of empanadas. I prefer meat empanadas over fruit empanadas, baked over fried, and a doughy crust vs. a flaky crust.

So I’ve been craving empanadas for over a year now. I’ve yet to find an empanada in Dallas that replicates the ones I inhaled at Empanada King in Buenos Aires, but I’m open to suggestions.

And I’m glad I finally conquered the homemade empanada, but I promise you that I will not be making these again anytime soon. Not because they weren’t utterly delicious, but they took a lot more work than I thought they would. It was definitely a project that left flour all over my kitchen and all over my face.

In all honesty, I tried to cheat through the dough step, but Central Market was out of frozen empanada disks. So I was stuck making my own dough from scratch.

This recipe is a combination recipe from Gourmet (the dough) and Food and Wine (the filling). It’s supposed to make 18 empanadas, but I got tired of rolling out the dough and stuffing empanadas after making seven of them. I know, I’m a quitter, but who needs 18 empanadas? I barely even have 18 friends.

Sweet and Savory Pork Empanadas

Dough:
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
2/3 cup ice water
2 tablespoons dry white wine

Filling:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup amber beer
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic paste 
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and very finely chopped
1 tablespoon golden raisins

Make Dough:
Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.) Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together.  Form dough into two flat rectangles (I was lazy and just made them into two large dough balls) and chill them, each wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour. Dough can be chilled up to 6 hours total.

Make Filling:
In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is browned, about 8 minutes longer.

Meanwhile in a large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chopped pork, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until the pork is golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Stir and cook until no pink remains, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the browned onions, beer, soy sauce, paprika, chile paste, cumin and jalapeño and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the filling to a large bowl. Stir in the  raisins and season with salt and pepper.

Make Empanadas:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Divide first dough and half of second dough into 18 equal pieces and form each into a disk. Keeping remaining pieces covered, roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 5-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick). This is the step that took me FOREVER. If you’re an experienced baker it probably won’t take too long.

Spoon about 2 tablespoons filling onto center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling. Press edges together to seal, then crimp decoratively with your fingers or tines of a fork. Transfer empanada to a baking sheet. Make 17 more empanadas in same manner, arranging on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Lightly brush empanadas with egg wash (one egg yolk and one tablespoon of milk, beaten well) and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Categories: Entertaining, Inspiration, Main Dish, Recipes

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