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Empanadas Mendocinas


I rarely make the same thing twice. That's just the truth. I always adjust based on what I have in the kitchen. So, if I use apples one time, but only have pears the next...well, I use the pears and skip the store. 

But I have this Precise Kitchen Elf who lives in my house. Read about when I should have known he was a Precise Kitchen Elf. So, when he asked when I planned to make homemade empanadas again ("exactly the same way as last time, please"), I told him that I had capers, but not caper berries. He insisted that I get caper berries; I suggested that he make them - especially if he wanted them to be exactly the same. And he did.  We had enough for dinner last night, enough for lunches today, and enough to share with the Nonni.


The funny thing, which I did not share with him, was that he liked the egg and caper berries combination that he thought made these more typical of Argentina. When we were at the store, getting ingredients, I ran into a friend who is Argentinian, she said, "oh, I love to make empanadas, Argentina-style. You know with eggs and olives." It was then that I realized that the first time I made them, I had improvised. So these are still not traditional, but they are mostly the same as before. I didn't have green onions this time around and I added in poblano chile pepper. Shhhhhh...don't tell R!

Ingredients 
makes approximately 36 medium empanadas

Empanada dough
  • 6 C flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 C butter
  • 2 C milk, warmed (I used whole milk)
  • 1 t salt

Beef Filling
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T fresh oregano, chopped
  • ½ T ground cumin
  • ½ C butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh poblano chile pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 T fresh tomato sauce (I used some homemade passata di pomodoro)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, cubed
  • ½ C caper berries, quartered

To Finish
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Procedure
Empanada dough
Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and blend well. Add the egg yolk and, then, the milk. Knead until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper. Cut out round disc shapes for empanadas.


Beef Filling
Combine the first five ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add the onions, garlic, and poblano and cook till the onions are softened and translucent. Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is cooked thoroughly, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 T fresh tomato sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Let the meat mixture cool, then place at your work area with the hard boiled eggs and caper berries.


Assembly
To assemble the empanadas place a spoonful of the meat mixture on one half of the empanada disc, add a slice of egg and caper berry. Fold the empanada discs in half and seal the edges, You can twist and fold the edges with your fingers. Or you can use an empanada fork, what R called his "empanada generator."


Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the beaten egg. This gives them a nice golden glow when they bake.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes - till nicely browned and firm to the touch.

Serve warm with sauce or other dipping sauces. I had some homemade salsa that I had canned this summer. Yum!

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