We tend to go through different little food fads in our house. A while ago it was home made pizzas, then it was a gazillion iterations of coconut based curries, and now we’re addicted to empanadas. Think of empanadas as delicious little spiced Cornish pasties. You’ll find them all over Latin America and Spain, stuffed with all sorts of delicious fillings. I tend to fill mine with a dry-ish version of my normal chilli mixture. If you want to go all technical and make proper Chilean empanadas de pino, you’ll need to add raisins, chopped boiled eggs and olives, which, as you can imagine is a stretch too far for the fussier ones in my family, so I stick to a spicy minced beef filling. The dough for these deliciously simple empanadas is fab: really easy to work with and really forgiving – no resting necessary.
Deliciously simple empanadas
For the dough:
250 ml milk
125 g butter
1 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
450 g plain flour
Warm the milk and butter in a small pan over a low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn off the heat and allow to cool until it’s just lukewarm. Add in the salt, then mix in the egg yolks (obviously if the milk is too hot you’re going to get scrambled egg here, so be patient!).
In a large bowl, make a well in the centre of your flour and pour in the butter and milk mixture, bringing it together into a soft dough. You might need a little extra flour. Knead until smooth and you’re ready to go!
For the filling:
Use your favourite chilli con carne recipe (you can find the one I use suggested here in my lasagne al forno recipe, or for a vegetarian option, use my veggie lentil chilli recipe. Allow the chilli to cool.
Of course, you don’t have to fill your empanadas with chilli. Any pie filling will work, so try creamy chicken and mushroom, sweet potato and chorizo, seafood, or even sweet fillings like caramel apple or strawberry jam.
To make the empanadas
I’ve added little step by step photos here, but firstly you need to make sure your filling is cool. With the dough, I tend to use the scales to make little piles of around 55-60g each. Roll each pile into a ball with your palm, then dust with flour and roll out each ball into a circle (aim for a kind of saucer size). Add around 1 tbsp filling to the middle of the circle (use a slotted spoon if your chilli is a bit wet – you don’t want too much sauce) and then wet the edges.
Fold the pastry in half over the filling, press down the crimp the edges. Now as you can see, I’m rubbish at crimping: I just kind of twist the edges of the dough up and press down, but you might have a better technique, or you can just press the tines of a fork into the edges. They don’t tend to burst as long as you don’t overfill them so don’t worry too much. You’ll soon get a nice little production line going. Place them onto a non stick baking sheet or use some baking paper to line whatever you’re using.
Once they’re all done, bake at 180 degrees C/gas 4 for about 25 – 30 minutes until golden brown. Serve with whatever you fancy. Ours was a random mix of leftover chilli, steamed broccoli and mac & cheese, but they’re lovely with salad, or you could add a little dipping sauce. Next time we have a party I’m going to make little tiny versions of these deliciously simple empanadas and serve them with basil chimichurri.