A Chilean Classic
While you can find Empanada’s across much of Latin America, they are considered a national dish of Chile, and are prepared in as many ways as you can imagine. If you find yourself in Chile, and craving an empanada you won’t have to search far: street stands, restaurants, bars, and locals frequently serve varied takes on the empanada. From veggie to meat-filled, fried or baked, empanadas are the prefect canvas for a little culinary creativity. Below we’ve got a traditional take on the recipe, but seeing that farmer’s market season is just hitting full stride, feel free to be creative with whatever ingredients you have on hand. Here’s a link to some extra inspiration if you’d like to think outside of the box.
For the Filling:
- 2 pounds ground pork or beef
- 2 medium onions, finely diced
- 2 jalapeno chiles, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat, if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tomatoes, diced
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Dough:
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water (do not beat until ready to bake)
- Make the filling: In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, cook meat until no longer pink, breaking it up into small pieces, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add onion and jalapenos; cook until soft, 5 minutes. Stir in chili powder and tomatoes. Cook over medium heat until mixture has thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Fold in cilantro. Let cool.
- Make the dough:
- In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using your fingers, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly.
- Add just enough cold water so dough comes together and becomes clumpy. Roll out onto a board and knead lightly but not too much.
- Split the dough into 2 large balls, flatten slightly into the shape of disks. The dough can be used immediately or refrigerated until ready to use (1-2 days max).
- If using immediately, roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). You can also make small individual balls with the dough and roll out each individual ball to a round shape (doesn’t need to be perfectly round) – if you have a tortilla press you can use it to flatten the dough balls.
- Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator/freezer to use later.
- Assemble the Empanadas:
- Place a spoonful of the filling on the middle of each empanada disc. The amount of filling will vary based on the size of the empanada, but in general, it’s easier to seal an empanada that isn’t overstuffed.
- Seal the empanadas: Fold the disc and seal the edges by pressing the dough with your fingers. If you’re having a hard time sealing the edges, you can brush the inside edges with egg white, it will act as a glue for the empanadas. You can also use a fork to help seal the edges, just press the top of the fork against the edges. To the repulgue or churito, the curl type seal, use your fingers to twist and curl the edges.
- For best results, Refrigerate the empanadas for at least 30 minutes before baking – this also helps them seal better and prevents the filling from leaking out.
- If desired, freeze on a baking sheet until firm, 2 hours. Wrap tightly in plastic; freeze in plastic bags.
- To bake fresh or frozen empanadas, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush tops with egg white/water mix, avoiding crimped edges. Bake until golden brown, rotating sheets halfway through, 30 to 40 minutes.