Empanadas mendocinas are traditional Argentinean baked empanadas filled with beef, onions, paprika, hot pepper powder, cumin, oregano, hard-boiled egg and olives. Rebecca of From Argentina With Love is having an empanada of the month event and if you’ve visited my blog before you know that I love empanadas and am always looking for new recipes to try. The empanada recipe for this month is the empanada mendocina from the Mendoza region in Argentina (also known for great wines). While empanada mendocinas are very famous I have never made them before so this was a great opportunity to learn how to make them and what makes them different from other meat filled baked empanadas. I started with Rebecca’s recipe for the meat filling or picadillo, I adjusted the spice quantities a little bit, just based on my personal taste, and added fresh oregano and green onions, I also halved the quantity of meat (from 2 lbs to 1 lb) and had more than enough for 25 empanadas. I wanted to learn what makes these empanadas so special and found out that when it comes to the filling you can make them either with ground beef or chopped beef. Also the empanadas mendocinas are known for not using raisins- which are common in other types of empanadas – and to finish the smoked paprika and picante or hot pepper are very important, in addition to the flavor they give the meat a bright red coloring that is considered a distinguishing factor for empanadas mendocinas.
The other thing that differentiates these empanadas is the dough, I was planning on making my standard baking empanada dough recipe for these or even using the store bought discs, but as I did my Google research I found out that the dough for empanadas mendocinas is unique because it is made with milk which give it a creaminess and softness that the standard empanada dough doesn’t have, so I adapted and translated the recipe for the dough from Recetas Ya and Club Gourmet. The recipes all called for making the dough by hand, but of course I took the food processor shortcut and made a few conversions. If you have the time I really recommend making the dough from scratch (but with a food processor), it made such a difference and my empanadas just baked beautifully. This is my new favorite baking empanada dough recipe, most of the time I experiment with different fillings, and this time it was so much fun to try a different way to prepare the dough.
Another important part of these empanadas – and empanadas in general – is the churito or repulgue – ie the curvy ornate seal. Rebecca has a very cool video on her post that shows how to do this. I confess that I’ve never really been good at making a nice perfect repulgue, but it seems to improve with practive. In addition, I’m always paranoid that the empanadas are going to leak, so my strategy is to seal them brushing the edges with egg white, then I press the edges with my fingers, I do the best to make the churito or repulgue and then for a final seal I use the tip of a fork to press down again, it works and actually doesn’t look too bad when the empanadas come out of the oven.
The day before I made these empanadas I just happened to be reading Ines del Alma Mia by Isabel Allende. The main character in the book is a woman from Spain who travels to South America (and helps establish a Spanish colony in Santiago, Chile). The book is part fiction part history, but one of her talents is making empanadas, which helps her and others survive during situations of limited food availability. I have to admit that I didn’t really know a whole lot about the history of empanadas, but for some reason I thought that their origin was Argentinean or Chilean (I’m sure there’s a big dispute on the subject already and don’t want to get any wars started), but at least based on this book it seems they came from Spain (and probably before that from the Middle East). Though, I guess South Americans in general have done a better job of perfecting (and marketing) the empanada.
Finally, I had to make a couple of dipping sauces and made two slightly different chimichurri sauces for these. The first one is a blended sauce with a little bit of white wine vinegar and for the second sauce I chopped the herbs instead and used balsamic vinegar, both worked well, Nicolas isn’t much of a balsamic vinegar fan (I know, what is wrong with him?) but I loved it. An aji criollo type hot sauce or tree tomato hot sauce would also go well with these delicious empanadas.
Easy recipe for empanadas mendocinas, traditional Argentinean baked empanadas filled with beef, onions, paprika, hot pepper powder, cumin, oregano, hard-boiled egg and olives. Adapted from From Argentina with Love
- 3 cups flour
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup of grasa - lard or butter or mix of both
- ¾ cup to 1 cup of warm milk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 white onions, diced, about 3 cups
- 1/2 cup lard or butter
- 2 tbs smoked paprika
- 2 tbs chili powder or any ground hot pepper
- 1 tbs finely chopped fresh oregano
- ½ tbs ground cumin
- 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
- 3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
- ¼ cup sliced green olives
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg, white and yolk separated and lightly whisked
- Balsamic chimichurri sauce
- Quick chimichurri sauce
- Aji criollo sauce
- Tree tomato hot sauce
- Mix the flour and salt in a food processor, pulse until well combined.
- Add the lard or butter, blend well.
- Add the egg yolk and the milk in small amounts, pulse until small dough clumps start to form.
- Make a couple of balls, flatten into disks and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate).
- Use the empanada discs immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
- Combine the ground beef, paprika, red pepper, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together and chill until ready to use.
- Melt the lard in a large frying pan or sauté pan, add the onions and salt, cook until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes.
- Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is done, stir frequently.
- Let the meat mixture or picadillo cool down, and then mix in the chopped green onions and chopped oregano.
- To assemble the empanadas add a spoonful of the meat mixture on the center of each empanada disc, add a slice of egg and sliced olive.
- Brush the edges of the empanada discs with the egg whites, you can also use water but the egg white is a good natural “glue” that helps seal the empanada.
- Fold the empanada discs and seal the edges gently with your fingers, twist and fold the edges of the empanadas with your fingers, as a final step use a fork to press down and finish sealing the empanadas.
- Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the egg yolk; this will give them a nice golden glow when they bake.
- Let the empanadas rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until ready to bake.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 F and bake for about 25 minutes.
- Serve warm with chimichurri sauce or other dipping sauces.
Beef picadillo filling and empanada assembly