I’ve loved Catalina’s empanadas for a while now. She makes them with a smooth, buttery dough and filling that, until now, was kept secret. (Yes, dear reader, she shared it with me.)
She learned the recipe from her mother, Lena, back home in Chile. Catalina typically makes the filling the night before, and the pair start rolling, filling and folding in early afternoon. She and Lena make a batch of plain cheese ones for the kids—cubes of mozzarella tucked inside the dough before being fried in a shallow pot of canola oil until the cheese is melted, the pastry golden. The beef empanadas are baked in the oven (a wood-fired pizza oven also works well).
I wrote up this recipe while sitting in the kitchen and watching, with measurements jotted down for me. Catalina typically makes twice the filling, but I cut it back to be more manageable for home cooks.
Whatever they’re stuffed with, Chilean empanadas must be served with a bowl of bright pebre: a rough chop of fresh cilantro (about a bunch), tomatoes (two ripe ones), a bunch of green onions, a couple crushed garlic cloves, a good squeeze of lemon and drizzle of olive oil, a spoonful of chili-garlic sauce and a big pinch of salt.
Catalina’s Beef Empanada
Catalina’s Beef Empanadas
5 lb sirloin tip oven roast, cut into 1 cm chunks
6 large white onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp seasoning salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp merkén (or substitute smoked
chili powder or paprika, with a
pinch of cumin and coriander)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
hard boiled eggs, quartered
whole pitted black olives
oil to cover the bottom of the pot
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup water or milk (enough to make the dough workable)
Set a large pot over medium-high heat and cover the bottom with oil. Cook the beef and onions for 10 minutes, until the meat is browned and the onions soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Taste and add more salt, if needed.
To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and rub it in with a fork or your fingers until well blended. In a measuring cup, mix the egg and 1/4 cup water with a fork; add to the flour mixture and stir until the dough comes together, adding extra water if it seems …read more