Argentina: me gusta Empanadas, me gustas tu
Our very first blog post had us flying (first class) across the Atlantic, all the way to Buenos Aires, where we were set to cook some truly authentic local fare.
... Just kidding, we're still a few sponsored posts and a travel show away from that point.
But! We did manage to find an awesome Argentinian named Nicolas, who was ready to give us the lowdown on how to make empanadas à la Argentina, right here in cold snowy Stockholm. Everywhere in the world seems to have their own version of what is basically a pastry stuffed with some sort of different (but almost always delicious) savoury filling- whether it's pierogies, samosas, calzones, etc. So, having had nothing but excellent experiences with stuffed pastries all kinds, we were very keen to give these Argentinian empanadas a go (we figured, how hard can it be to make empanadas from scratch?...).
We'll let you find that out for yourselves, by checking out the recipe below (warning: does not include the bottle of Argentinian wine we polished off whilst cooking).
"...did we have wine? I don’t remember but if we did it was very irresponsible because we had a lot of driving to do afterwards"
A classic Argentinian dish that is easy to make and comes in many varieties: you can pretty much fill it with whatever you like! For this recipe we went with the traditional version of beef, eggs, and olives, but you can also use chicken or even make it vegetarian (with potatoes or chickpeas for example). Empanadas are sometimes fried in oil, but we were still feebly grasping on to our New Year's health resolutions (and have zero deep-frying experience), so we decided to bake them in the oven. The traditional way of eating this is with your hands. They're perfect an appetizers, as main courses, as midnight snacks and even for breakfast (for reals).
Pair with: a Malbec from the Mendoza region
Listen to: The solemn but romantic tango songs with Carlos Gardel, one of the most famous singers and performers of the 1920’s and 30’s in Argentina.
Makes: 10-12 empanadas
Time needed: 2-3 hours (if you do it in one go. You can make the dough beforehand and keep it in the freezer)
For the dough:
- 500 g of flour
- 75 g of butter (soft, room temperature)
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp oil (olive or canola)
- 125 ml milk
- Pinch of salt
For the stuffing:
- 250 g ground beef (or chicken)
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 boiled eggs, diced
- 1 dl of chopped green olives
- ½ tsp of cumin
- 30 g of raisins
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of chilli (if you like a little “oumph” like we do)
- A few tbsp of fresh chopped parsley (we love herbs so used a whole bunch)
- 50 ml of oil
- 1 egg
- Preheat oven to 200 Cº
- Mix all the ingredients for the dough in a big bowl, kneading with your hands until the dough becomes even and all the flour has been absorbed
- With a rolling pin or something similar (we used a wine bottle), roll out the dough on a surface, using some flour underneath. If the dough is too dry, add some extra butter (butter is almost always the answer to everything)
- Roll it out until it is just a few millimeters thick.
- Make circles in the dough, about 10-12 cm in diameter (we used a small round Tupperware lid to make the circles; can you tell that we were in fully equipped professional kitchen?)
- In a few tbsp of oil, fry the onion and beef in a large pot for a few minutes, until the meat has browned and the onion is translucent
- Add remaining ingredients in pot and stir. Let simmer for a few minutes.
- Let the mixture cool for a little bit
- Now you are ready to make the empanadas!
- Take about 2 tbsp of the mixture and place in the middle of the dough circle
- Fold over (making a semi-circle) and pinch together the edges to make sure the mixture is sealed in the dough
- Using two fingers, pinch the edges and fold the over each other (see picture) to make a “wavy/braided” pattern along the edges (for the lazy way, use the prongs of a fork and make a pattern along the edge)
- This should be enough for at least 10 empanadas
- Place the empanadas on a tray with a baking sheet
- Crack the egg and whisk in a bowl, and brush the empanadas with the egg (make sure to cover the whole topside of the empanada for a golden colour.
- Put the empanadas in the oven for about 15 minutes (take out when they start getting a golden brown colour)
- Ready to eat (or serve, your call)!
We learned that empanadas are not served with an accompanying side, but! They could go very well with a nice salad or grilled vegetables. They can also be eaten cold, and last in the freezer for a long time. Forever even!
After eating our weight in empanadas, we got to chatting with Nicolas about life, choosing to move to Stockholm, and his life-changing culinary experience on a fishing trip with a group of rowdy Argentinian accountants. Check out the full interview below:
Kryddhyllan: What’s your favourite food from home?
Nicolas: Empanadas would be one. It could also be maybe what we call milanesa napolitana which is schnitzel with cheese, ham, and tomato sauce on top. I asked an Italian person if it was from Italy and it’s not *laughs. It’s not from Milan and it’s not from Napoli.
Kryddhyllan: Why is it your favourite?
Nicolas: Well, empanadas are just great. I could have a ton of them. I remember a few times- many times, where you have one after the other and you don’t feel full or hungry. You’re just eating them because they’re great. The milanesa napolitana, I used to eat a lot at school at primary school during lunchtime. I also used to have it when I was at sailing club.
Kryddhyllan: So, the next question is about Sweden
Nicolas: I’m scared *laughs.
Kryddhyllan: What brought you to Sweden?
Nicolas: Work. Well, was it work though? Work was the opportunity, but I always had a curiosity for Scandinavian countries, but work was the means to do it.
Kryddhyllan: What was your curiosity about Scandinavia?
Nicolas: Well, you guys have a good reputation in a bunch of things. Things like people being honest, direct… the state has reasonable explanations for their decisions. Some of those things triggered the curiosity for the culture… once you are here, then you realise that it is a western culture but not as other western cultures. I feel that Scandinavia is a set of countries that grew their separate way from the rest of Europe. Maybe the reason is just because there is a small sea that separates you from the rest of Europe, but you can feel differences on values and behaviours. It's as if culturally Scandinavia would have evolved differently.
Kryddhyllan: Next question. Favourite new food dishes since moving here?
Nicolas: Yeah *laughs. Well I dunno…
Kryddhyllan: No that’s a great answer, you should always go with your first instinct. That’s a classic dish.
Nicolas: Yeah, I feel like it’s a good one. But let me think if there’s something else that’s good too… pancakes with jam and whipped cream are also very good. I love Thursdays at work. I go to the canteen and have it.
Kryddhyllan: With pea soup?
Nicolas: Yeah, that too. It’s great.
Kryddhyllan: What did you know about Swedish food before coming here?
Nicolas: I didn’t know anything, I just knew that you guys eat a lot of fish.
Kryddhyllan: Best and worst thing about Swedish food?
Nicolas: It’s quite clean. Maybe lately people are more into sauces, but it’s clean food. It doesn’t have too much seasoning, it’s salt, pepper and that’s it. And that’s how it is at home. That’s a good thing. The worst thing is that things have a tendency to not have very much flavor. I mean things like fruits and vegetables. They are fresh but they come from a greenhouse. For some reason it doesn’t feel like it’s flavorful enough, the vegetables doesn’t have the dirt on them. You can take them straight from the package.
Kryddhyllan: If you had to pick one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Nicolas: One food…
Kryddhyllan: Forever, till you died…
Nicolas: I mean, empanadas. You can eat them with your hands. You can eat them hot or cold. You can freeze them forever.
Kryddhyllan: What’s your spice of life?
Nicolas: In my case it would be none because I don’t use spices. But salt then.
Kryddhyllan: What’s the best meal you ever had?
Nicolas: My last meal I just had. No, that’s so cheesy *laughs. I could say that I really liked the meal in Budapest, the first nice restaurant.... Rezkaka Restaurant! I feel like it was more the situation that was really nice. Hmm, I was going on a fishing trip with my father and some accountants to the north of Argentina, and we stopped at a grill restaurant in a small town on the way there. The meat was awesome, and we had so much, it was like asado, French fries, salad, wine… did we have wine? I don’t remember but if we did it was very responsible because we had a lot of driving to do afterwards *laughs. But for sure there was wine. If it wasn’t wine it was beer. I remember that one of the cars had the boot full of beer and wine.
Kryddhyllan: What a fishing trip!
Nicolas: Yeah, fishing was not the main point of the trip. The funny thing was that most of the people were these old accountants
Kryddhyllan: Those are the ones that get crazy
Nicolas: It was a very nice trip. The town was called Esquina which means corner. I forget the name of the restaurant.
Kryddhyllan: What is your favorite restaurant at the moment?
Nicolas: I’m drawing a blank…. Hmm the pizzeria I used to go to with my family in Mar del Plata, because that was great and Argentinian pizza is the best!
Kryddhyllan: Hmm debatable *laughs. What was it called?
Nicolas: La Marcienita. The little female martian.
Kryddhyllan: I feel like genders don’t exist on Mars. It’s a social construct… That was all, thank you Nicolas!