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In Argentina, (and South America generally), an empanada is essentially a stuffed pastry. The filling usually consists primarily of beef, but may also contain cheese, ham and cheese, or spinach; fruit filling is used to create a dessert empanada.

Dough Recipe:

1 kg flour
2 eggs
200 g butter (or margarine)
1 tsp. salt
2-3 cups cold water
Olive oil
Corn Starch

Dissolve salt in water. Mix eggs, flour, butter and 1 cup of water to form a dough. While kneading the dough, gradually add in more water until the dough is soft and stretchy. If the dough becomes sticky, add more flour. Once the dough is the desired consistency, allow to rest for a couple minutes, then roll it out to a thickness of ~2-3 mm. Cut the dough into circles roughly 10-15 cm in diameter.

For a flakier crust, before cutting it into circles, lightly coat the dough with olive oil and dust with Corn Starch. Fold the dough in half (with the corn starch on the inside) and again coat with oil and corn starch. Fold again and roll out to a thickness of ~2-3 mm.

Filling (Relleno)

Every household in Argentina has its own special recipe for the empanada filling. The fillings also tend to vary from region to region, with some being sweet and others spicy. The following is the recipe for a sweet empanada filling typical of those found in the province of Santa Fe.

1 kg ground beef
1 large onion
2 tblsp vegetable oil
2 tblsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin (comino)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 cup raisins
Green Olives (optional)
Diced Hardboiled egg (optional)
Diced boiled potatoes (optional)

Dice onion into small pieces and sautee in vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Add and brown ground beef. While beef is browning, mix in salt, sugar and spices. Once meat has finished cooking remove from heat and add raisons. If desired add sliced olives, egg or potatoes.

Empanada preparation

Place 1-2 tablespoons of empanada filling into the center of one of the dough rounds (tapas). Wet a ring of dough around the outer edge of the tapa with cold water and fold the tapa in half to encase the filling (the wetted portion will help the dough stick together). Now grabbing the upper corner of the folded dough, pinch and twist over a small (finger-sized) portion of the dough. Continue pinching and twisting around the perimeter until you reach the bottom of the empanada, so that the open edge is sealed shut. (If you didn't understand that last part, you can also just use a fork to smash together the outside edge). Do the same with all of the filling and dough.

To cook the empanadas, deep fry in vegetable oil on medium heat until golden brown. Alternatively, you can glaze them with butter and cook on a cookie sheet in the oven at 400F for 8-10 minutes or until light brown.

Allow empanadas to cool slightly then serve. Empanadas are usually eaten with your hands (like a taco or burrito).