Kitchen corpses. If you love to cook, you’ll be likely to have a few (too many) of them. You know, those utterly useless machines clogging cabinets and those ‘handy’ utensils always jamming drawers. After every birthday party, you can add a few more precious items to the museum of kitchen futilities. Egg slicers, chocolate fountains, apple corers, pop art toasters or those cutesy corn-shaped skewers for eating the real thing on the cob….basta!
For one of these gadgets I’ll happily make an exception: my empanada maker. To make empanadas, the popular Southern-American pastries, you don’t even need this plastic tool. Latin ladies crank out perfectly shaped half-moons in a flash. And a bit of a rustic look is actually a pro for the home cook. But the thing is, if I don’t grant this empanada maker some precious storage space, I’ll forget to make them. Every time it comes tumbling out of the cabinet when I reach for something else, my friends are in for a treat!
Makes about 8 large empanadas
These empanadas are my take on the traditional Argentinean/Chilean pastries. The dough is supple, not too flaky. It’s a tad bit sweet, which contrasts nicely with the spicy-sweet stuffing. A hearty winter snack!
For the dough:
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening (or okay, margarine)
- 2.5 cups of flour (300 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
For the filling:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 2 small dried chillies (no seeds, finely chopped)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon mild paprika powder
- pinch of ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 400 grams ground meat (I asked my butcher for a 50% pork, 50% beef mix)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons raisins
- splash of white wine vinegar (no more than 1 teaspoon)
Mix the egg yolk and water with a fork until blended.
With your hands (because you don’t own a hand mixer with dough hooks!) work the butter and vegetable shortening into the (sifted) flour, into which you’ve added the salt and sugar.
Add a little bit of the egg mixture and start kneading. Keep adding small amounts of the mixture and keep kneading until you have a supple, smooth dough. If it’s too sticky, add some flour. Shape the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
For the filling, heat the oil and sauté the onion for a few minutes over medium heat until transparent. Add the carrots and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Add the spices, keep stirring, and add the meat. Stir! When the meat is done, add the tomato paste, raisins and vinegar, mix everything, lower the heat and let simmer for another 10 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add a spoon of water.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C (375 °F).
Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until about 3 mm thick (0.12 inches). Cut out circles a bit bigger than the tool’s surface when open. Place the dough on the surface, add a few spoons of the meat mix onto one half (not too much!), close and press well. Scrape off excess dough with a knife, open the form and gently place pastry on a parchment paper-lined baking dish. With a fork, prick a few holes in them. Brush the top with a bit of egg yolk and bake the empanadas about 20 minutes until golden. Let them cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.
Another few beautiful pictures by Luis Herrera!