Spiced beef and chorizo empanadas
- August 2016
- Makes around 15
- Hands-on time 40 min, simmering time 2½-3 hours, oven time 25-30 min
A little like a Cornish pasty, empanadas are a boldly spiced and filled South American pastry. Ours are filled with slow-cooked beef shin and tasty chorizo for a snack, nibble or starter that’s perfect for entertaining.
- 16.9g (6.2g saturated)
- 40.5g (1.6g sugars)
For the pastry
- 475ml boiling water
- 115g lard, butter or beef dripping, plus extra, melted, to glaze
- 1½ tsp fine salt
- 750g plain flour
For the filling
- Sunflower oil for frying
- 600g British beef shin, cut into small chunks
- Handful plain flour, seasoned with salt and black pepper, for dusting
- 200g cooking chorizo, cut into small cubes
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp paprika (not smoked)
- Large pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1 litre beef stock, hot
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped
- Handful green olives, roughly chopped
- To make the pastry, put the boiling water, lard and salt in a mixing bowl or jug, then stir to melt the lard. Put the flour in another mixing bowl, then gradually stir in the liquid, not too quickly, until it forms a smooth dough. As soon as it’s cool enough, work it with your hands – the dough will become too stiff at the end to work with a spoon. Once all the water has been incorporated, tip the dough out onto a work surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth. The aim is to work the pastry to activate the gluten (unlike with shortcrust, which shouldn’t be handled too much). When it’s soft and pliable, wrap in cling film and chill.
- To make the filling, heat a glug of oil in a large sauté pan or deep frying pan over a high heat. Toss the beef in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess, then fry on all sides until browned and slightly caramelised (don’t crowd the pan – cook in batches if necessary). Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the chorizo to the pan and fry until it releases its oil and turns crisp, then turn down the heat, remove the chorizo with a slotted spoon and add to the beef bowl.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook gently for 5-10 minutes over a low-medium heat, stirring often, until the onion has softened but not coloured. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes, stirring, then add the tomato purée and herbs, and cook for a further few minutes.
- Return the meat to the pan, pour in enough stock to cover, then bring to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 2½-3 hours, stirring frequently, until the beef is very tender. If the mixture looks like it’s becoming dry at any point, top up with any leftover stock or freshly boiled water. The liquid should reduce and thicken, but don’t let it dry out. Once the beef is tender, stir in the spring onions and olives, then cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool completely, then shred the meat.
- When you’re ready to assemble the empanadas, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of a £1 coin. (You might find the pastry easier to handle if you cut it in half, then roll out the pieces separately.) Cut out about 15 x 12-15cm diameter circles, using a small plate or saucer as a guide, re-rolling the pastry offcuts as necessary. Put around 2 tbsp of filling (which should now be thick – leave behind any runny sauce) into the centre of each circle and brush the edges with water. Fold the pastry in half to enclose the filling and squeeze the edges to close. You can crimp the edges (like a Cornish pasty) to seal or simply press them with a fork.
- Put the empanadas on baking sheets lined with non-stick baking paper, then brush with melted lard, butter or beef dripping. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp, then remove and leave to cool a bit before eating.
Depending on which fat you use to make the pastry, you may need a little extra flour to get the dough to kneading consistency – about 25g should do it. It should feel soft, more like a dough than a pastry, so don’t be too enthusiastic about adding more.
Make the pastry 24 hours ahead and the filling up to 48 hours ahead. Leave both chilling in the fridge.
The unbaked or fully cooked empanadas will freeze for 1 month in freezer bags.
If freezing unbaked, brush with glaze and cook from frozen, adding an extra 5-6 minutes to the cooking time.
If freezing cooked, defrost thoroughly, then warm through in a medium oven for 20 minutes.
These savoury pastries are popular all over South America and are thought to be related to Indian samosas, which came via Portuguese explorers.
This pastry is a revelation – it feels like Play-Doh, and turns beautifully crisp and chewy once cooked. It’s also sturdy so you can be sure these delectable little snacks won’t break up on your journey to the beach.
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