Many consider the empanada to be the national dish of Argentina it seems they are eaten all over the country at all hours of the day. These small handheld pies can be filled with any number of ingredients, but the most popular filling is beef.
- Yield: 16 empanadas
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup vegetable shortening
- ⅔ cup water
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Beef Filling recipe
- Olive oil
- 1 pound boneless sirloin, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped fine
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 fresh sausage links (about ½ pound total), casings removed and crumbled
- ½ onion, chopped fine
- ½ pound cremini mushrooms, chopped fine
- 1 egg, for egg wash
How to Make It
Prepare the Dough
- Place the flour in a large bowl. Combine the vegetable shortening, water, and salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the shortening has melted, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to combine.
- Pour the melted shortening mixture over the flour, add the egg, and stir to combine. The flour mixture will be clumpy, and you may not be able to stir much with a spoon. Using your hands, begin to work the dough in the bowl until you are able to create a ball. The dough will be pretty dry and a bit crumbly. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead with your hands for about 4 minutes, or until you feel the dough become smooth and elastic. The dough will not be sticky.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you are not going to be using the dough for more than an hour, refrigerate it. (But bring it back to room temperature before you start rolling and cutting it.) Prepare the Beef Filling
- Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put about ¼ of the diced beef in the pan, spreading it across the bottom of the pan. If you add too much meat to the pan or crowd it, the beef will steam and not brown. Season with a pinch of salt and turn the meat with a spatula to brown on all sides. As soon as the meat is browned, about 5 minutes, remove it from the pan with a slotted spatula or spoon and place it on a dish. Repeat with batches of the remaining beef until it’s all browned, adding more olive oil as needed.
- Lower the heat under the pan to medium and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion, paprika, and cumin and stir to coat the onion with butter and spices. Sauté the onion until it becomes limp and translucent, about 4 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat, add the beef, and stir to combine well with the onion mixture. Transfer the beef mixture to a dish and set aside. Wipe the skillet down to use for the sausage filling. Prepare the Sausage Filling
- Place the skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and the onion and cook, breaking apart the sausage meat, until the meat begins to render its fat, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with a pinch of salt, and continue cooking until the mixture is well blended and cooked through, about another 6 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Roll out and cut the Dough
- Cut the empanada dough in half. Keep one half wrapped in plastic and place the other on a floured work surface in front of you. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about ⅛ inch thick. To keep the dough from sticking, lift it up off the work surface after every couple of rolls.
- Use a 4-inch-diameter round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass to cut out circles of dough. You should get about 8 circles (you may need to reroll the dough once to make enough). Make sure to cover the dough circles with plastic wrap while you work to keep them from drying out. If you want to stack them, place a piece of parchment paper between the layers to keep the dough circles from sticking to each other. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Assemble and Seal the Empanadas
- Place a circle of dough in front of you and place a couple of tablespoons of filling in the center of the circle. Wet your fingers with water and use them to lightly wet the edges of the dough circle. Fold one side of the dough over, closing the empanada and concealing the filling.
- In order to distinguish the empanadas after they have been closed, I like to create a different seal for each filling. For the sausage and mushroom empanadas, press the back of a fork along the edges to seal the empanada. For the beef empanadas, pinch the edges together with your fingertips, then, starting at one end, create pleats by folding and pressing the edge of the empanada up and over onto itself. Glaze and Grill the Empanadas
- Place a grill topper on the grill grates. Heat your grill to medium (400°F) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before continuing.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk lightly. Using a small paintbrush or basting brush, lightly brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg.
- Oil the grill topper with a vegetable oil–soaked paper towel held with a long pair of tongs. Place the empanadas on the topper and close the grill lid. Allow the empanadas to cook for 12 minutes. Because the fillings are already fully cooked, the empanadas are ready when the dough is cooked and turns golden brown. Serve
- Transfer to a serving platter or basket and enjoy.