Almost every country has its beloved version of a filled half-moon biscuit. Patties in Jamaica, Pastizzi in Malta, Salteñas in Bolivia – a flaky, buttery pastry filled with everything from pulled chicken to spicy ground beef to curry peas with cheese has a universal taste. One of the most popular is the empanada, which is believed to have originated in Galicia and can now be seen across Latin America and the Philippines. (There are endless variations in Latin America too: in Chile it is baked and filled with half a boiled egg, while in Venezuela the empanada is made from corn dough and has a characteristic yellow color.)
For your own beef empanada recipe, Chelsea Coleman, the owner of the Rose, a major San Diego wine bar, turned to Argentina for inspiration. While delicious on their own, Coleman say the empanadas really serve as a vehicle for chimichurri, Argentina’s favorite sauce. It’s a rich, vibrant green and is usually made from finely chopped parsley, garlic, oregano, and white vinegar. The recipe for empanadas and chimichurri can be found below. Although Coleman fills the empanadas with beef, she invites you to use whatever filling you want as the fat crust can withstand almost anything.
Coleman is behind the Rose’s wine list too, so we picked her up for selection for the Eater Wine Club’s May Box. You will find that no matter what filling you choose, Coleman’s empanadas make an ideal snack to pair with wine – a pastime that we would best enjoy with a glass in one hand and a half-eaten empanada in the other.
Argentinian beef empanadas with chimichurri recipe
Yields: 24-30 empanadas
For the dough:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons of salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
2/3 cup of ice water
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
For the chimichurri sauce:
2 chopped garlic cloves
4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
1 bunch of Italian parsley, cut and chopped
1/2 cup of chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
For the filling:
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of ancho chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 pounds of ground beef
1 cup of red wine
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of salt
2 teaspoons porcini mushroom powder (optional)
1 (14 oz) can of shredded tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For assembly and baking:
1 egg to wash the eggs
For garnishing (optional):
Chopped parsley and oregano
First make the dough:
Step 1: Whisk the ice water, apple cider vinegar, and eggs in a bowl and set aside.
Step 2: Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and legumes until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and pulse gently until the batter forms a ball. If the batter is too dry, keep pulsing by adding 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time. It is very important not to overwork the dough to keep its flaky texture.
Step 3: Place the dough from the food processor on a countertop. Divide it into two equal pieces and flatten each one into a slice. Wrap the dough tightly with plastic. Store in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes to overnight.
Note: The dough can be frozen prematurely and thawed on the day of use.
Make the Chimichurri Sauce:
Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine the garlic and red wine vinegar. Add the chopped parsley and oregano and stir until well mixed. Let marinate for 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Add 1/2 cup of olive oil (or more, depending on how much parsley you have), red pepper flakes, and salt. Adjust the spices to taste.
Note: Chimichurri sauce can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, or left on the counter to allow flavors to develop. If refrigerated, make sure to take it out early so it can return to room temperature.
Make the filling:
Step 1: In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté them until translucent. Add the cumin, chili powder, and bay leaf. Stir to toast the spices. Add the ground beef and cook until brown.
Step 2: Stir in red wine, Worcestershire sauce, salt and porcini mushroom powder. Continue cooking the beef until the liquid has evaporated and the beef caramelizes at the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shredded tomatoes. Simmer for 5-10 minutes and add the pepper flakes. Adjust to taste to season.
Step 3: Remove the filling from the pan and set aside to cool. Allowing the filling to cool completely in the refrigerator will make it easier to fill the empanadas.
Assemble and bake:
Step 1: Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured worktop and roll it into a large rectangle about 1 cm thick. Using a 5 inch ring shape or cookie cutter, cut out 12 circles. If you want smaller empanadas, you can use a 4-inch shape.
Step 2: Put 2-3 spoons of filling on each slice. Fold the dough in place with one finger, fold the dough over to include the filling, and create a half moon pocket. Seal the dough by braiding it or pressing down with the prongs of a fork. Repeat until all empanadas are formed.
Step 3: Place the empanadas in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes to rest before baking.
Step 4: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Step 5: Take the empanadas out of the fridge and coat them with egg detergent before putting them in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and the filling oozes out a little. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Step 6: Arrange the empanadas on a large platter. Serve with chimichurri sauce at room temperature. Garnish the chimichurri with pomegranate seeds and the empanadas with herbs such as parsley and oregano. Serve warm.
Recipe tested by Louiie Victa