It would seem all over the world there are various ways of putting meat inside some sort of pastry! In New Zealand we have inherited pies and pasties from England, but in Russia there are piroshki, in China there are dumplings and wontons, India has the samosa, and in the Middle East there are a variety of incredible pastries made from meat and filo. At the farmers market we bought a Colombian Empanada to try. It wasn’t our first encounter with South American empanadas. We bought the Colombian one because we wanted to see how it differed from the empanadas cooked by a bloke from Chile that we met at a barbecue. The Chilean empanadas were very good. They had been fried which of course makes most things good! The Colombian one had been baked and it had potato as well as meat in the filling. It was less spicy than I remember the Chilean one being, but we all enjoyed it.
As usual when you start to do research on any well loved dish you end up more confused than at the beginning. Most people think empanadas are of Spanish (or Persian) origin. Many countries have their own version, and then there are the variations on that version. Most agree that empanadas are, at their most basic, a dough filled with some sort of (usually meat) filling and (usually) baked in the oven. Having said that, they can be fried, they can vary in size, and they can have a variety of fillings including vegetables and seafood. Spices included also vary enormously. So far all the ones I have tasted have been very nice.
I decided to make some on Monday night. I thought I would try the Argentinian version and made the hairy bikers[http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/beefempanadas_85448] recipe. The spices in this recipe include cumin, paprika and chilli. I also included some ground coriander. They are a bit fiddly and take some time to put together. I do remember Daniel turning up late with his plate of Chilean ones apologising for them taking longer to make than he had planned – they still disappeared very quickly. My home-made Argentine ones also disappeared very fast and there really needed to be more.
I think there are useful ideas from empanadas that work well in our more traditional Kiwi meat pies. Adding olives and sultanas is an interesting twist to a mince pie but both work so well with mince. The good thing is since there seems to be a never ending variation, this is a dish to try everywhere and of course to try the endless recipes on the internet for the “best empanada”! Have you made empanadas before? Got any hints or tips to share?
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