I read about them like they were little morsels that only the elders spoke of in small pockets of South American communities in California. They always spoke of them like they were magical but when I questioned them about making them or the recipes they always looked at me like I was loco crazy! Too much work they would say. Needless to say, I was not only going to South America to seek out fly fishing waters, I was in pursuit of the history of the empanadas and who made the best. This was an endeavor that would add 10 lbs. to my frame, but one worth taking the risk for because….I just had to know. I ate them in Buenos Aires, Petuluma, and La Boca. I ate them in Neuquen, Patagonia, and San Martin los Andes. I ate them fried and baked, and ate them in lamb, beef, pork and chicken. What I quickly learned is that each of them were unique and different with their own spin on them, and none of them were bad. Some of them were obviously better than the others, but recipes were different and mostly because different regions used different ingredients and their recipes were sometimes five generations old.
After consuming what I think was….556 empanadas (may be a bit less, but it feels like I did). I started to notice what I liked about the ones I had, so I could build my own personal empanadas that was a product of the knowledge I learned from my consumption.
The fried vs. baked argument is a good debate. I think most people who tried Claudios at the Patagonia River Ranch enjoyed the fried ones the most, however, they are fried and there is a part of me that says “Shay if your going to live to 75, you need to stay away from the fried stuff….if you can.”
So here we go folks, this is my gift to you that I so graciously put my life and health on the line so you could enjoy this recipe. I used beef on the first one, and lamb on the second.
Makes 30 empanadas, do not worry they will get mauled.
Cook the potatoes in cold water with 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to boil, reduce the heat and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and pour cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Cover with saran wrap on a plate and save for later.
Finely chop the beef up into small 1/8 inch size. Season with sea salt and pepper.
You want to sear the meat in a cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of the lard on high, then remove to a plate spread the meat to stop the cooking process. Do this in stages, you want to keep the meat from steaming or over cooking. Take chopped onions and add 1 tablespoon of lard and cook on medium, add the white parts of the green onions chopped. Cook until translucent but not browned then remove them.
Cook the frozen peas and add the peas, meat, onions, red pepper flakes, chopped oregano, remainder of the chopped green onions and potatoes into a dish and mix with your fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Then add chopped eggs. Cover and put in the refrigerator.
Bring water and salt to boil in small sauce pan. Add lard and stir until it melts. Allow to cool at room temperature. Using your hand gradually add the flour 1 cup at a time until you roll the dough into a ball. Sprinkle flour as needed on the work service to keep from sticking. Divide dough in half, wrap in clear plastic and let chill for an hour. Get your rolling-pin out y’all and start rolling it in batches until it is flat and 1/8 thick or less. Use a biscuit cutter or a large cup to cut the dough in a disk that is four inches wide circles.
Get your dough disk, and your big spoon. Take a little water and get the outside edge a little wet. And begin to fill the disc up with the mixed ingredients.
Then pinch the ends together
I then take the a fork and do a little crimping on the outside
Take one egg and beat it, then brush them nice and easy.
Bake them on the top two racks for 15 minutes or until nice and brown