The other day we had some guests in the hotel that were from South America. Argentina to be exact. I like to do what I can to make our guests feel at home so I made some Argentinian Empanadas with a “Steve From Scratch” twist.
Empanadas are a very popular street food in South America. Basically an Empanada is a half moon shaped “hand pie” with a filling. Empanadas are fried or baked, and may have as many fillings as there are letters in the alphabet. The fillings vary from meat to seafood to cheese and even fruit, depending on the country or region. Almost every part of the world and every culture has their own versions of the empanada. The Indian culture has their Samosas. Afghanistan has their Bolanis. In Bolivia they call them Saltenas. Brazilians make Pastels. Cubans make Pastelitos. In Jamaica they serve Jamaican Patties. Jewish people make Knishes. In Poland they make Pierogies. And in the United States Hot Pockets are a popular version. The one thing they all have in common is that they were derived to be portable and make a hearty meal for the working people.
I made a traditional ground beef filling that you would find from a street vendor in Buenos Aires, but, I had to tweak it just a little. I added some green onions, cilantro and grated orange zest to the filling as it cooled.
The orange zest played well with the sweetness of the raisins and got along just fine with the tangy green olives and garlic. Mixing sweet and savory ingredients together is a traditional Latin American flavor combination. Try it and it may very quickly become your new favorite, too!
This recipe that I made has a filling that is most popular in Buenos Aires, but you can fill an empanada with virtually anything you please, from savory to sweet, so be brave and have fun with it. You can be 100% authentic and make your empanada dough from scratch, but you can find it ready to use in the frozen pastry section of most specialty or Hispanic groceries. If you are in a rush or just feeling lazy, frozen puff pastry dough is an acceptable substitute.