I’ve always had a challenging time making empanadas. So far, I’ve made them a total of three times. The dough I make from scratch is always thick because I have a problem rolling it out properly. One time, I tried to make a dessert empanada. I had a different kind of problem with the dough. Instead of too thick, it was too sticky. Ugh! My empanadas tasted good but not very good-looking. Since I always seemed to have a challenging time making the empanada shell, I stopped making them, even though I love to eat them.
When Rebecca of From Argentina with Love announced a food blogging event called Empanadas of the Month, which she was hosting, I decided to rise to the challenge again. In this monthly event, Rebecca provides a new empanada recipe for us to make. The first recipe is for a classic Mendoza-style empanada. Rebecca’s husband and friend, Carina, are from Mendoza, Argentina.
According to Rebecca, Mendoza-style empanadas are baked, instead of fried. They are filled with seasoned ground beef, green olives and a slice of egg. Then the empanada is sealed with a special technique called ‘repulgue’, where the edges of the empanada are folded and pressed repeatedly until they create a decorative pattern.
Rebecca provided a video with her friend Carina narrating, in Spanish, how to seal the empanadas using the repulgue technique.
"¡Perfecto!" (Perfect!), "¡Muy bien!" (Very good!), "¡Eso!" (That’s it!), Carina would encourage as Rebecca performed a perfect repulgue style technique on the empanadas. At the end, Carina and the video guy applauded Rebecca for her excellent work.
I would have loved my own cheering empanado-making team with me. With that in mind, I tried to recreate what I saw on the video. I even imagined that Carina encouraged me. "Perfecto, Paz!" "¡Muy bien, Paz!" "¡Eso, Paz!" "Applause!"
*sigh* It didn’t quite work out well. You should have seen me trying to do the repulgue technique. It was quite hilarious, actually. I think the technique I performed was something that could only be called the ‘Paz Pathetic’ technique. I think I’ll have to go to Carina’s kitchen for a personal lesson. In the meantime, I did the best I could.
So, here are my humble empanadas Mendocinas. They didn’t turn out bad at all.
Oh! By the way, I used the ready made, store-bought dough for the empanadas. Interesting note: Rebecca calls them ‘tapas’ but when I went to the store asking for ‘tapas’, everyone gave me a strange look and one store employee flat out told me he didn’t know what I was talking about before turning his back on me. After searching on my own, I found the dough, which was called ‘discos’ (para empanadas)/disks (for empanadas). Ahhh! Interesting! I suppose they have different names for the dough in different places.
The dough tasted fine but I like the idea of making my own, which I think would tasted much better. So, I’ll start practicing how to make it again, one of these days.
All in all, I’m happy about my Mendoza-style empanadas. I’m ready for my applause.
Thanks Rebecca. This was fun.
Ed. Note: Rebecca has posted a roundup of the works of those who participated. You can find delicious-looking empanadas here.
Receta por Empanadas Medocinas de la familia Oliva-Quiroz
Mendocino Empanadas from the Oliva-Quiroz family
For the filling:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup shortening or lard (you can add less or omit this if necessary)
2 lbs. onion
3 Tablespoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
green olives, pitted and cut into slices, as many as is necessary
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into rounds
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
For the construction: A glass of water 1 egg, beaten flour for the pan The meat can be made a day in advance. Put the onions, sliced finely in rounds, in a frying pan and salt them. Add the ground beef and cook, then add salt and pepper to taste. Next add the lard and mix well, so that it’s incorporated-the lard, the meat and the onion together. when it’s all cooked, add the crushed red pepper (to taste) and the cumin and mix well. When the mix is ready, let cook and add the paprika and stir well.
The assembly: Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the tapas on a flat surface, lightly floured. With a tablespoon, put a little of the meat filling in the center of the dough round. Add a slice of the olive and a piece of the hard boiled egg.
Then moisten the edge on the top half of the round with a little water on your finger. Fold the bottom half of the dough up until the edges meet and seal with your fingers by pressing down. The empanada should have a half-moon shape.
Use the palms of the hands to pack the filling firmly in the center. Next, fold the edges with the Repulgue: using your fingertip, fold one corner of the empanada over, pressing down firmly. Go to the edge again and repeat, pressing firmly each time. Go around the edge of the empanada and you’ll get a spiral pattern.
Beat an egg in a shallow dish and paint the top of each sealed empanada so that when they bake, they have a shiny, golden shell. Spread flour lightly over several cookie sheets, and place the finished empanadas on top. Put the empanadas in to bake for 12 to 15 minutes-they should be sizzling and very golden brown on top. Take out and eat very carefully while hot!