Mmmmm. Empanadas. Especially the Ham and Cheese ones. My boyfriend and I had them probably everyday while I was in Argentina. Whether from an empanada shop or from the store. They’re delicious. He’d always order a few different kinds but knew the Ham and Cheese were my favorite. Gooey on the inside packed with flavor and soft and flakey on the outside. I’ve had empanadas here in the States, and only one place I’ve had them from were even close to comparable to the ones in Buenos Aires. A place called Empanadus a total find at one of the antique fairs in Chicago. I chatted with one of the guys running the booth just before I left for Argentina! Why were his Empanadas so damn good?! He was from Buenos Aires. So he knows how to make them right. If I buy nothing at the Randolph Street Market, I still get an empanada from Empanadus, always.
I decided that since I can’t wait a whole month in between to get emapandas, and I didn’t want to venture out to Riverside to buy some (although I did find out that they sell them frozen in packs and will deliver them to the city…hello! I may be doing that soon) I wanted to try my hand at making my own. I made a trip over to one of the only places in the city that sells Argentinian specialties (Yerba Mate, Dolce Du Leche, Alfajores, empanada supplies and of course Argentinian Wine) There’s one other place that I knew of but its run by a restaurant and Buenos Aires Deli is run by an Argentinian. When I went I stocked up on some Yerba Mate and some empanada shells. The brand I got was sold EVERYWHERE in Argentina, we bought some of the premade Empanadas while I was there as well. Its a brand called La Salteña.
I could have made my own dough…but I’m lazy and it probably requires yeast which is just asking for a disaster. Pre-made shells is the way to go for me!
I didn’t use a recipe. I just made it up and flavored to my own tastes. When you’re using the pre-made shells the “recipe” if you can even call this that, is really simple. If I wanted to make a more complicated version I would have gone for a traditional beef empanada or even a caprese one. But for ease and simplicity I opted for Ham and Cheese. (and caramelized onions, which did not caramalize but I still used them.)
Empanada Shells (I used La Salteña, from a local Buenos Aires shop) Goya also makes them. Or you could make your own…
Cheese: I used mozzarella, but you could really use whatever is your preference. I’m sure a good Queso would be great too.
Ham: I just took uncured, sliced ham that I got at Trader Joes and diced it up.
Caramelized Onions if you want to do the onion version.
I mixed up a dash or two of garlic powder and onion powder with the mozzarella cheese and then added some ham.
I just spooned out a little pile of the cheese mixture onto the dough. Voila! Easiest part of the whole thing! After I baked them though, I would suggest getting as much cheese in there as possible. The dough puffs up and can feel kind of empty if there’s not enough cheese.
*If you’re making the onion and cheese empanadas, replace the ham with the onions. I attempted to caramelize my onions and they got all crunchy…who’s got a good method to caramelize onions! I let mine cook for almost 2 hours on the lowest heat possible and it was a failure…
Now for the hardest part. Sealing them. I tried two ways (and forgot the water/egg wash) So DONT FORGET THAT!
Brush a little water or egg around the edge of the shell to seal it properly.
I did most of mine by folding over and pressing a fork down along the edge to seal. But those were an epic empanada fail. Maybe if I did the wash they would have worked…ahh well for next time.
What DID work was folding and twisting the edge over (so it kinda looks like a braid slightly). Its hard to explain and I should have taken a video but here’s a link to a pretty good explaination: Canuck Cuisine: Empanadas
Once they were sealed up I arranged them on a cookie sheet (thank goodness I foiled the sheet…or I’d still be scraping off cheese)
Pop them into an oven that was preheated to 350 (YES! I finally got an oven thermometer, my life is saved! No more burned food!)
They take about 10-15 minutes. Just keep checking on them to make sure they are golden brown.
Popped open or not they were still delicious!
Now I made a bunch, there were 20 discs in the package of dough. Obviously I wasn’t going to eat all 20 empanadas in one sitting. So I tossed them in the freezer. Here’s the thing when you reheat. Don’t do it in a microwave. I tried and they got all hard. A toaster oven or a conventional oven is the way to go when reheating. Or freeze uncooked ones and bake them before eating (they were definitely the best right out of the oven, not reheated) Suprisingly these little guys are pretty filling. Two is quite enough for me, and they’re easy to eat! Plus you can really fill them with anything, nutella & bananas, beef, chicken, spinach and cheese. They’re not super low calorie 275 calories per empanada…but just look at that cheesey goodness…calorie shmalorie.
Definitely one of my favorite little things to dine on when I was in Buenos Aires!
What’s one of your favorite foods from your travels?!