Many years ago my family lived in an apartment building on the second floor and my parents became friends with the couple across the hall who had three kids. They were from Chile and the husband/dad worked for Motorola and was transferred to Canada (I believe he was an electrical engineer but I can’t be sure because I was only 8). The kids were, Edward, Malu and Christina; my brother fell in love with Christina (the youngest) and asked for her hand in marriage — they were 6 years old. Edward was my age but we were never interested in each other, after all, he was a creepy boy and I was certain he had couties! Malu was a year younger than I and we became friends. We were family friends for several years…7 or 8 I believe, and one day we came home to find that they had moved out without a single word or forwarding address. We haven’t seen them since. How weird is that? Have you ever had such a strange experience?
My dear Mom was always ready to try anything and when the opportunity arose, she would arrange to swap dinners with her Chilean friend. Mom also did that with an Indian friend and a Jamaican friend! This was our introduction to the family love of food. My Mom’s Chilean friend made us Empanadas which are a South American meat patty, often changed up from country to country by the spices added and the type of meat used. Last year when we were in D.C., we had Empanadas at a great little Spanish restaurant and they put their own twist into this delicious patty…they added soft cheese! Boy was it good. It was deep fried and the casing was soft and crispy and the centre filled with wonderfully spiced ground meat and a delicious soft cheese. When I realized that in my 7 years of blogging, I have never posted an Empanada recipe I decided that it was darn time! Shame on me because they are so easy to make and freeze very well. Pop a couple into the oven or microwave and you’ve got a delightful snack or appetizer or light lunch.
A couple of weeks ago, our lovely neighbours invited us for a tapas cocktail afternoon and she made a version of Empanada that got my attention (with chorizo) but for this recipe I shall post my dear Mom’s traditional Chilean friend version for the filling. To be honest, I never really liked Mom’s recipe for the pastry so I made my neighbours pastry recipe instead and I think it’s pretty darn perfect. The pastry is a cross between bread dough and pie crust; the exterior is firm but the texture when you bite into it has some elasticity so the patty doesn’t fall apart. This time I made small one-bite sized patties and a slightly larger 3-4 bite luncheon patties. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
Makes about 48 mini 5cm (2 inch) Empanadas AND 32 larger 15 cm (3.5 inch)
- 1 kg ground meat (could be mixed veal with pork and beef)
- 5 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup chopped black olives
- 1 cup of golden raisins
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp paprika (sweet or smoked)
- Salt to taste (but be careful because the olives are quite salty)
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella or Manchego, cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch pieces)
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven. Cook onions until soft.
- Add the spices and heat until you can JUST smell them.
- Braise the meat until completely cooked, add the raisins. and the chopped black olives.
- Allow to cool completely before filling dough.
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 4 tsp salt
- 2 eggs beaten with about 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup sesame seeds for garnish
- Pre heat oven to 350°F.
- Combine all dough ingredients until it forms a soft dough (kitchenaid is fine).
- Roll out dough to about 1mm thick (I used the #3 setting on my pasta maker) and cut with a round cookie cutter (small 1 bite size should be no larger than 5 cm or 2 inches and larger luncheon versions should be about 15 cm or 3.5 inches).
- Brush some of the egg wash all around the edge of each circle. Into the centre of each dough circle, add about 1‐2 tbsp meat mixture, making sure you have some raisins and olives in each circle. Add one square of cheese per round.
- Fold dough over filling so it is a crescent and seal the edges.
- Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each crescent top with the egg wash for shine and sprinkle with sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm and enjoy withabitofjamorcompote.
- These freeze very well, just pop them into a zip-lock baggy and freeze, use one at a time or as needed.
- The recipe may be successfully halved or quartered.
- If you don’t like black olives, leave them out, same with raisins but you will miss the salty and sweet combination.
- We used fresh mozzarella because we could not find Manchego cheese. Regular mozzarella may be too hard so I would avoid it.
- In hindsight, the cheese almost completely melted out of the empanada, so next time I doubt I’ll add it.