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I adore empanadas. Empanadas are a ubiquitous snack in Argentina. Rosa Angelita Castro de Flores learned to make these from her mother, Sara Julia Castro, who came from the northern province of Catamarca. She shared this recipe with Saveur Magazine. Time does not include chill time. You can save time and use pastry sheets if you need to. Also, I do not particularly like raisins so I omit them.
FOR THE DOUGH
- 3⁄4 cup lard or 3⁄4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 3⁄4 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 pinch paprika
FOR THE FILLING
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, peeled and minced
- 1⁄2 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced
- 1⁄2 chicken bouillon cube
- 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3⁄4 lb boneless beef shoulder, finely diced
- 1 small russet potato, peeled, finely diced, and boiled
- 1⁄3 cup raisins (optional)
- 8 green Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
- 3 scallions, trimmed and chopped
- 1 hard-boiled egg, peeled and chopped
- For the dough: Heat 1 cup water and lard together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the liquid is warm and the lard has melted. Meanwhile, mix together flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour. Put paprika in well, then add a little of the warm liquid and stir with your fingertips to make a wet paste. Pour in remaining liquid while using your hand to work the flour into the liquid. Continue to work dry ingredients into wet ingredients with your hands to form a wet, oily dough. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate until dough is chilled, about 2 hours.
- For the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers, bouillon cube, paprika, red pepper flakes, white pepper, and cumin, and cook until onions are soft, about 7 minutes. Add beef, season to taste with salt, and cook, stirring, until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer filling to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Once filling has cooled, add potatoes, raisins, olives, scallions, and egg. Adjust seasonings. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400°. Tear off pieces of dough and, with your hands, roll into about 12 golf-size balls. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough balls on a lightly floured surface into 5'' circles. To assemble empanadas, place about 3 tablespoons of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold over and press the edges firmly to seal, starting from the middle and working out to the edges. Curve the ends of the empanada to form a crescent. To make the ''rope'' around edge, pinch 1/2'' of one corner edge between your thumb and index finger and fold edge over onto itself. Pinch and pull another 1/2'' of the edge and fold again, making a rough triangle over the first fold. Repeat this folding around edge, pressing each fold tight. Place empanadas on a cookie sheet and bake until golden brown, 15-20 minutes.