Christmas at our house is a multi-cultural celebration of Polish and Argentinean traditions, just as our wedding was more than 10 years ago. (Polish wedding tradition: Shaking a tree branch and catching apples for the number of children we’d have. Argentinean wedding tradition: LOTS of dancing in masks to carnival music with partying going on late into the night… I mean..morning.)
The good news is that, in both cultures, the big, festive Christmas dinner actually takes place on Christmas Eve. Beyond that, the cultural traditions clash like polka dots and plaid (well unless you’re uniting them with an ADA belt). The traditional Polish “Wigilia” (Christmas Eve dinner) starts after the first star comes out (around 5pm). The Polish dinner consists of more than a dozen traditional dishes–all meatless. The Argentinean tradition? A dinner served right before midnight (way after the first star comes out) consisting of all-meat dishes!
On our first Christmas Eve together, my parents dug in their heels; they were adamant about not breaking our family tradition. Shortly afterward, when Gaston pulled empanadas out of the oven, and the delicious aromas started wafting through the house, my folks suddenly became more open-minded about blending the cultures. “Tis the season,” they said. “We should be open to all traditions.” They said this, of course, between bites of an empanada.
We’ve now been celebrating Holidays together for more than a decade…embracing both traditions and we continue to make delicious Argentinean meat empanadas every year.
I hope you enjoy the recipe below. Leave a comment and let me know if you’ve ever tried Argentinean empanadas and your favorite filling! 🙂
Classic Argentinean Meat Empanadas
Ingredients (makes 20 empanadas):
I buy the empanada dough pre-made from an international food market but they’re not difficult to make. Here is the recipe for the dough:
325g (11 ½ oz) of unsalted butter
1kg (2 lb 4 oz/ 6 2/3 cups) of plain (all-purpose) flour
25g (1 oz) of salt
350ml (12 fl oz) of water
2 onions, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
avocado oil (or whatever oil you prefer is fine)
salt, black pepper
500g(1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) beef
1 tablespoon aji molido or 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes
1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin
3 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
6 spring onions (scallions), green part only, chopped
3 egg yolks, beaten
Cut 325g (11 ½ oz) of unsalted butter into small cubes. Sift 1kg (2 lb 4 oz/ 6 2/3 cups) of plain (all-purpose) flour into a large bowl. Add 25g (1 oz) of salt and the cubes of butter. Rub the butter into the flour and salt with your hands until you have a sandy texture with no lumps.
Add 350ml (12 fl oz) of water and combine with the flour mixture using your hands. Add a little more water if necessary. Knead the dough on a lightly floured work surface for 10-15 minutes. Form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Sauté the onion and bell pepper in a saucepan with a little oil over low heat for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the saucepan and set aside.
To the same saucepan, add a little more oil and sauté the meat over high heat. Once the meat has browned, reduce heat to low and add the onion and capsicum. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. Stir in the aji moido, if using, cumin, paprika and cinnamon and mix well.
Let the filling rest for 24 hours in the refrigerator, if possible, for a more intense flavor. Stir the spring onion into the mixture before assembling the empanadas.
Preheat the oven to 190’C (375’F/ Gas 5). Sprinkle a little flour on the work surface. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 3mm (1/8 inch), and cut out circles with a 14cm (5 ½ inch) cutter. Using a 60ml (2 fl oz/ ¼ cup) ice-cream scoop or measuring cup, form small balls of filling and place one on each round of dough. Lightly moisten the edge of the dough with a little water and fold over into a half-moon shape. Seal the edges and give them the ‘carne’ decoration or an edging of your choice. Set aside in the refrigerator if not cooking immediately.
Arrange the empanadas on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush with egg yolk and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked. Allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Source: Temple and Webster