Immediately after hitting ‘publish’ on my first post, I thought, “Oh dear. Where to start?!”. With so many different foods that I tried, and even more that I didn’t, choosing the first focus was shaping up to be a challenge.
So, like every methodical, organised, borderline OCD thinker, I wrote a list. A list with sub headers of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, and the great associated foods. First came Argentina, and top of that list for me (before steak even!) were the hearty, little pastries, that are a staple of any Argentinian diet…empanadas.
On every street corner, of any big city, little town, or marketplace, empanadas are the daily staple. Especially in Argentina, empanadas are commonplace in society, with so many different fillings and at low cost. Commonly, empanadas are filled with meat, cheese and onion, or sweetcorn (choclo), but we also discovered the deli-styles!
What better food to begin this project with, than the simple but delicious staple food of South America. This was the first time I had made my own pastry of any kind, so needless to say, I was nervous. On the other hand, if I could master the dough, the staple of the staple, a whole world of empanada possibilities would lie at my feet.
So after a little research, and a little experimentation, here is the recipe I went for…
Empanadas with a chimichurri dipping sauce.
For the dough (makes 10-15 medium sized empanadas):
- 16 oz plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 oz unsalted butter
- 5 tbsp water
- 1 egg
Mix the flour and the salt together in a bowl. I decided to use a food processor after this, so if you have one, I highly recommend it. Put the flour mixture into the food processor, and add the rest of the ingredients. I was unsure of the quantities whilst doing this, so I added them gradually, but I was just being cautious! Mix the ingredients together until the dough becomes firm, fluffy and textured. Group the dough together in a ball, and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Now it’s time to make your fillings…
For meat filling:
- 250g minced/ground beef
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- Pinch of cumin (to taste)
- Pinch of smoked paprika (to taste)
- Pinch of oregano
- 1/4 tsp of “Very Lazy” red chillies (optional)
- 2 spring onions, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
- 100ml of olive oil
- 1½ tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
- 4/5 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley (fresh is preferable)
- Salt and pepper
- Chilli flakes (to taste)