To celebrate Chile's Independence Day I made a classic holiday food: empanadas.
There are a few variations on Chilean empanadas, most importantly wether they are baked (al horno) or fried (fritas). The other important variations are the fillings. The most common are Empanadas de Pino, made with ground beef, hard boiled eggs, black olives and golden raisins. You can also fill the empanadas with cheese or "a la Napolitana" with cheese, prosciutto and basil.
The following is the recipe for Empanadas de Pino al Horno: (makes approx. 12 large empanadas)
First, prepare the accoutrements:
Hard boil 3 eggs. I recommend the following method. Place the eggs in cold water and bring to a boil. When the water reaches a hard boil, remove from the heat and let rest in the hot water for 8 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath for a few minutes, then peel. These will be cut into quarters.
Drain and rinse extra large black olives.
Soak the golden raisins. I have been soaking the raisins in Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, it adds a nice touch of acid to the raisins (and gives you a reason to finish the bottle as you prepare the rest of the empanadas).
Then, it is essential to prepare a good dough (masa).
4 c. AP flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. melted lard
1/2 c. clarified butter
3/4 c. warm water
1 tbsp. salt
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together into a mound on a table top and form a volcano to contain the liquid ingredients. Add the lard and butter and start to whisk the ingredients together from the inside to avoid the liquid escaping. Knead the dough JUST until it is fully incorporated. Over kneading will make the dough too tough. When finished, place in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and allow to sit for 45 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the pino.
1 1/2 lbs. 85/15 ground beef
1 large onion
4 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp granulated white sugar
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
Chop the onions and sauté with 1 1/2 tbsp oil on medium heat until they are nicely browned. Remove onions from the pan to be added to the pino. Heat a clean pan over high heat and add oil when HOT. The pan should almost be at smoke point when you add the oil. Add the ground beef, cumin, salt and pepper. Lower heat to medium-high. Stir until well browned and add the the browned onions. Lower heat to a simmer to allow flavors to marry. Do not be afraid to well season the Pino.
Now it's time to roll the empanadas.
Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into two pieces. Roll each half out into a log and cut into 6 sections. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten into a circle. Into each flattened circle add a 1/4 of a hard boiled egg, an olive, about 10 raisins and 2 well rounded tablespoons of pino to the top half of the dough. Brush the edges of the dough with an egg wash, fold and pinch the bottom layer over the top layer every 1/2 inch all the way around the edge.
Lay the finished empanadas on a baking sheet dusted with flour and brush the tops with an egg wash, and bake at 375ºF until golden brown.