You could be forgiven for thinking of this as a sausage roll, or a Cornish pasty, or just a pie. My first experience of empanadas was on a trip to Argentina years ago. Not eating them when they were good became something of a challenge. They should be light, elegant and irresistible
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 750g ground beef
- 250g onion, finely sliced
- 24 olives, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 red bell pepper, de-stemmed, deseeded and finely diced
- 125ml warm water
- 120g lard
- 275g plain flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Gently sauté the beef and onions in the vegetable oil for 15 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Stir in the olives, paprika, pepper and a seasoning of salt and pepper and continue cooking for a further five minutes. Set aside.
- Combine the water and lard in a saucepan and heat until the lard has melted. Sieve the flour into a bowl, season with salt and pour in the lard mixture. Bring together and knead to form a dough.
- Break off golf-ball sized lumps to form the empanadas. Keep the remaining pastry covered with a damp cloth and warm, while you work. Roll out the dough – it’s more a case of stretching than rolling – so you have something about the same size as your hand and shaped like an ellipse.
- Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the centre and fold the long sides together. Press together to seal from each end so you are left with a gap in the middle of the long sides, kink the pastry back to extrude any air and finally seal. Nip the edges with your fingers, pinching with your thumb nail and then twisting the dough slightly, or with a fork which is less pretty, but rather quicker. Trim off any excess.
- The empanadas can be kept in the fridge for a few hours at this point. If you opt for this, allow them to come back to room temperature for half an hour before you continue.
- To cook, preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6, brush lightly with the egg and bake on a tray that is not too overcrowded, for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Tip: Try not to overwork the dough too much, a light but firm touch is required