Specializing in Discos & Empanadas

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If you traveled the world, we think you would be hard pressed to find a cuisine or culture that did not include some variation of a turnover! The Polish have perogies; the Russian piroshkis; calzones are a favorite in Italy; English Cornish pasties traveled to the British West Indies where they became Jamaican patties; in India and Pakistan they love samosas; and in countries where Spanish is a native language, you will find empanadas. Whatever they are called, filled turnovers are a popular snack, appetizer, entree, or dessert just about everywhere.

The word "empanada" comes from Spanish for "breaded" and means "in dough" or "that which is covered with bread." This Medieval finger food was introduced to the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors and from there to the New World with the Spanish conquistadors. Whether called empanadas, empadas, pasteles, or empadinhas, these tasty turnovers have been dubbed the "great food passion" of South America. The saltena, or empanada, is even the national dish of Bolivia. According to Chef Felipe Rojas-Lombardi, the use of the diminutive form of the word relates to the number of bites it takes to finish the pastry. An empanada yields about three bites, while those that can be polished off in just one, are empanaditas. Whatever you call them or whatever their size, empanadas are not difficult to prepare.

There are a number of pasty recipes that are suitable for the crust, but the basic, most popular one consists only of flour, shortening, salt, and enough water to hold the mixture together. Lard is the traditional shortening used, but any solid vegetable shortening, butter, or margarine can be substituted. Whatever recipe you use, just remember that the dough must be elastic (extensible) enough to be folded over the filling without cracking and allowing the filling to leak.

Just about any food or any combination of foods can be used as a filling: meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, cheese, and/or fruits. Even leftovers make wonderful empanadas. There are only a couple of rules that apply. First, the filling needs to be moist enough so that it does not dry out during cooking, yet be dry enough so that the empanada can be eaten as finger food. It is also important that the filling is very flavorful as so little is used in each turnover. Remember that the filling may become more liquid in the oven, so do not overfill the empanada or they will overflow and burn on the bottom.

No special tools are required to make empanadas; by using Cubanita discos, (dough for pastries) empanadas can be made in a cinch. For instance, a snack or entree-sized empanada requires our common sized discos, which consist of a dough shell circle of about 5 ½-inch diameter. However, for an appetizer or as some may say empanadita, requires our party sized discos, which consist of a dough shell circle of about 3 ½-inch diameter. For your reference, we have provided an aid, which actually illustrates the Discos to Empanada Process so you can easily make your empanadas from our discos (dough shells).

Lastly, empanadas can be either fried or baked. The fried versions should be served immediately, while the baked ones need to rest for a few minutes after being removed from the oven. They are best served warm not piping hot. Some prefer the al horno or baked empanadas as they can be prepared in advance and once baked they freeze beautifully. To reheat, place the frozen empanada in a 350oFdegree oven for approximately 30 minutes. Do not defrost first.

These are all the basics on empanadas that you need to know and to get started. In the bottom portion of this webpage, we have included a link for filling recipes, some of which are for the more traditional empanada. More varieties will follow as soon as their made available, for now all you need to do is put together your favorite filling, and begin creating your own tasty turnovers. The only limitation is your imagination!

Recipes: Argentine Empanada