The trick to making these beef empanadas is to cut the beef into very small pieces (carne cortada a cuchillo). The Tucumán region of Argentina is famous for these artisan handmade empanadas filled with seasoned, finely chopped beef and onions. Optional ingredients include raisins, olives, and hardboiled eggs, although raisins and olives are not traditional. You can make these in one day, but the filling tastes best if allowed to rest in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The dough can be made ahead as well. If you have left over pot roast, it works very well in this recipe.
Prep Time: 14 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 14 hours, 25 minutes
- 1 pound beef steak
- 1/2 cup beef fat, lard, or vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 green onions, white and green parts sliced crosswise into thin rings
- 1 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives (optional)
- 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup water
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup lard or vegetable shortening
For the Filling:
- Finely chop the beef into 1 cm. square pieces.
- Cook the garlic and the white onions in the beef fat or oil until tender.
- Add the paprika, cumin, salt, and chili pepper, and stir well.
- Add the beef and cook until just browned. Add 1/2 to 1 cup water and simmer for 5-10 minutes more, allowing water to boil off. The filling should be juicy but not watery, and the meat should be tender.
- Stir in the green onions and sauté 1 minute more. Stir in optional raisins, green olives and hard boiled eggs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Chill beef mixture for 2 to 24 hours.
Make the dough:
- Sift the salt with the flour into a bowl.
- Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut the lard or shortening into the flour until well blended. Slowly stir in the water a little at a time, reserving some.
- Turn the dough out onto a flat surface and knead, adding more water if necessary until the dough comes together into smooth clump. If you add too much water and the dough is too sticky, you can knead in some more flour.
- Knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and stretchy. The dough should not be sticky at all. Cover dough with a dish towel and let dough relax at room temperature for 30 minutes. You can wrap the dough in plastic warp and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
Shape the empanandas:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Roll out half the dough very thin, to 1/4" thick. Cut the dough into 4-5 inch rounds, using a large cookie cutter, bowl, or coffee can. Knead the scraps into a ball and let the dough rest, covered, while you roll out the other half of dough. You should end up with 20 to 24 rounds, depending on the size.
- Place 1-2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of a dough round. Brush edges of circle with water. Fold the round in half over the filling, and press down hard along the edges to seal.
- Starting at one end of the pressed-down edge, fold the edge towards the middle and press down. Move your fingers over 1/2 inch and fold the edge into the middle again. Continue around the sealed edge of the empanada, folding the edge over itself, to make a twisted rope effect.
- Bake the empanadas for 10 minutes, then turn the temperature down to 400 degrees and bake for 10-15 minutes more. The empanadas should be golden brown.
- Store baked empanadas in the refrigerator or freezer and reheat in the microwave. Unbaked empanadas can also be frozen.