What: I decided to bring the spirit of Latin America into my kitchen by making traditional Argentine empanadas with three different casings: Plantain, home-made pastry and shop bought puff pastry.
Empanadas 1: Plantain
After making my first empanadas in the Amazon Rainforest I wanted to use the same recipe at home using plantain, which we managed to buy from our local ASDA.
Firstly you peel the plantain (we used 3 plantain and it made 4 large empanadas casings) and chop it into chunks before bringing some salted water to the boil and boiling for around 20-30mins. Check to ensure the plantain is soft with a fork or knife. Then we left the plantain off the heat but still in the pan with the hot water with the lid on. This is because the plantain needs to stay warm whilst the fillings are being prepared.
Empanada 2: Home-made pastry
Possibly the simplest pastry to make by yourself. To make around 4-5 large empanadas I used 200grams of plan flour with one stick (about 1cm thick) of unsalted butter, one medium egg and a splash of water. You can use a food processor to mix, I used my hands, only out of preference so that I could feel how sticky the dough was, remember to add a dash of extra flour if it’s too wet. The dough was then rolled into a ball, flattened slightly and then wrapped in grease proof paper and popped in the fridge for 30mins – this time period coincided nicely with the cooking of the plantain.
Empanada 3: Shop-bought puff pastry
This doesn’t really need an introduction, just open the pack and unroll!
Whilst the pastry was cooling and the plantain was cooking we created two different fillings.
Filling 1: Traditional Argentine Beef
I was slightly dubious about this filling as it included olives and hardboiled egg but stick with it!
We made far too much filling for 6 empanadas however:
400gramms of minced meat (we used beef), 1 x large onion sliced, half a veg stock cube, handful of spring onion finally sliced, 2 x hard-boiled eggs cubed, handful of pitted black olives halved, cumin & hot paprika to taste
Start of with sautéing the onions, crumble over the stock cube, add the meat and brown, then finally add the spices, olives and egg, mix together, then bring off the heat and put in a container in the fridge to cool.
Filling 2: Cheese and Spinach
Very simple, we mixed half a bag of grated mozzarella with half a bag of grated mild cheddar cheese, then wilted a bag of fresh spinach and sautéed one small red onion. Mixed the lot together and then again put it in the fridge to cool down.
NB: Now is the time to pre-heat your over to 200°C/400°F or Gas Mark6.
BUILDING THE EMPANADAS!
Empanada 1: Plantain
Drain the plantain, it should still be pretty warm, pour into a bowl and mash with one egg yolk and half a stick of butter. The texture of the plantain dough will be quite sticky.
Tear a piece of cling film big enough to be able to form your empanada. Get a smallish piece of the plantain dough and squash it with a bowl between the cling film. Peel back the cling film and add a spoonful of filling, then use the cling film to fold over the plantain dough forming a casing. Use the rim of a bowl to roll around the edges to seal. Place on baking tray ready to bake, you can also fry if you prefer.
Empanada 2 & 3: Home-made and short bought pastry
Roll out each of the pastry, using a knife cut a med-large circle depending on how large you’d like your empanadas. Put a spoonful of filling in the centre and then fold over the dough to form a pocket. Seal the edge using the prongs of a fork. If you like, wash the empanada with egg yolk.
Once all your empanadas are ready and on the baking tray, place at the top of your pre-heated over for approx 20-25minutes basically when the dough is golden.
To accompany the empanadas I made a quick tomato salsa: quarter 2 fresh tomatoes, one garlic clove, half a red onion, fresh parsley and a splash of white wine vinegar and olive oil, into a food processor and blitz until a chunky salsa consistence.
Let the empanadas cool – we should really have invited people over to share as we had baked 20 empanadas between two of us, suffice to say not so much a party as an all you can eat buffet.
1st place: Home-made pastry – crispy and delicious the pastry was lovely and light.
2nd place: Plantain – great flavour but the had got a little soggy due to the filling, probably better to fry them quickly rather than bake.
3rd place: Shop bought puff pastry – it was delicious but not really an empanada in my opinion more like a pasty.
If this recipe makes no sense but you like what you hear then just buy some traditional empanadas from here – they’re delicious!