Thursday’s Dish: Empanadas

There is something about the holidays that brings out this desire in me to embark upon a group cooking project. Maybe it’s having grown up in Austin and nibbling on tamales during the holidays or cooking with my Greek father, who hails from a culture in which food is a communal, shared experience. Maybe it’s the idyllic vision of kids playing while some mama friends and I multitask — cooking and chatting. Of course, there is always the end product: seriously yummy food, usually made in large quantities, that you can eat on for days and days.

Those are some of the reasons I jumped at my friend Veronica’s offer to make empanadas one morning while the kids were in school. She is a mom at my son’s elementary school and hails from Argentina. At pick-up, we are left salivating when she recounts stories each week of her and some friends making homemade pasta and other delicious sounding food.

Listo! (For you gringos, that means ready!)

Empanadas*
Courtesy of Veronica Pomata

*This recipe yields about a dozen empanadas, so feel free to adjust it to however many you want.

You’ll need:
1 package of empanada dough (look for the La Salteña brand at Fiesta)
1 lb. ground beef/turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 or 2 hardboiled eggs, chopped
Salt
Paprika
Oregano
Cumin
Oil (canola or olive – your choice!)

Our maestra (teacher) Veronica showing us how to close the empanadas.

To assemble:

  1. Saute the onion and pepper in oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Add ground beef and stir occasionally, until all of it is brown.
  3. Turn the stove off and add eggs, salt, paprika, oregano and cumin (to taste). Don’t be stingy — you want your filling to be super tasty inside of your dough.
  4. Let the filling cool down.
  5. Take one dough circle at a time and fill it with a big spoonful of filling.
  6. Close. It’s nearly impossible to describe how to do this, and there are many different methods, but here is one video to get you started. After we did about 5, I started to get the hang of it. It can be slow going at first, but it gets both easier and prettier as you go.
  7. Bake the empanadas at 400 degrees for about 20 mins on a cookie sheet. Use parchment paper if you want to avoid having the empanadas get stuck to the cookie sheet.
  8. Enjoy!!

Variations: If ground beef and turkey aren’t your thing, the filling can also be made with ham and cheese, sauteed onions and cheese (and mushrooms too), tuna, eggs and onions, spinach and cheese, etc…In Veronica’s words, “Go wild!!”

What they look like when they are ready to go into the oven. Let the anticipation begin!

Note from Nicole: I definitely recommend making a few dozen, since they are irresistible. After I gave some to my mom and nibbled on some throughout the day, there were barely any left to share with my family later!

Do you have a favorite something you like cooking with a group? A family cookie recipe? Spring rolls? We’d love to hear about it here at LiveMom and share it with our readers! Leave a comment below and we’ll be in touch.

A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 6-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau’s words, her mission is to “suck out all the marrow of life”, or in her son’s words, to cultivate in him a love of “advenchers”.