An empanada is a kind of turnover popular in Southern Europe, Latin America, and the Philippines. The name comes from the Spanish word empanar which means coated or wrapped in bread, describing the basic element of making an empanada: folding a dough filled with choice ingredients for filling and then cooking it by frying or baking.
Food historians believe that empanadas originated in Galicia, Spain. Robert de Nola published the cookbook Llibre del Coch in 1520. Here, he mentions seafood empanadas as part of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian cuisines.
- April 8 is National Empanada Day
- Argentina’s empanadas vary depending on where you are buying them from. The empanada in Salta is different from those in Jujuy, La Rioja, Catamarca, Tucuman, etc.
- In Chile, the empanada is an important food to eat during the celebration of national festivities.
- Empanada was brought to Indonesia by the Portuguese.
- Just like in Argentina, empanadas in the Philippines vary. They have an empanada similar to the Cuban picadillo which is different from the empanada in Ilocos and Bulacan.
Empanadas Buying Guide
Buy from stores that sell freshly-made empanada or buy from made-to-order empanada stores to guarantee freshness and quality. Some stores merely reheat pre-made empanada and these are less delicious compared to a freshly-made empanada.
If you have food allergies or conditions that require you to avoid certain food, make sure to ask for the ingredients of the empanada before buying.
Empanadas Production & Farming in Texas
Texas is brimming with successful empanada businesses from small scale enterprises to large scale commercial operation, some for as long as 49 years old. There is empanada everywhere because of dine-in restaurants, empanada kiosks in malls, stalls in farmers markets, empanada food trucks in the streets, frozen empanada in the grocery store, and recently, freshly-made empanadas delivered to your home. One of the reasons the people of Texas do not get tired of eating empanadas is because of the variety of taste and flavor – each empanada business mirrors the cuisine that influenced the business owner. That, and the fact that empanada is delicious and easy to eat.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
An empanada may contain additives and/or preservatives for the sake of improving its quality and prolonging its shelf life.
- Oxidants/reductants – These are used to improve the dough. Some examples are azodicarbonamide (ADA), ascorbic acid, and l-Cysteine.
- Emulsifiers – This is a crumb softener or dough conditioner. Diacetyl tartaric acid (DATA) esters of mono- and diglycerides (DATEM), polysorbate, calcium stearoyl-lactylate (CSL), and sodium stearoyl-lactylate (SSL) are some examples.
- Hydrocolloids – These act as stabilizers, thickeners, and gelling agents, affecting the stabilization of emulsions, suspensions, and foams, and modifying starch gelatinization. Some examples are xanthan gum, guar gum, and carboxymethylcellulose (CMC).
The purpose of the use of preservatives in bread products is to inhibit the growth of molds and thermophilic bacteria. Here are examples of preservatives: propionic acid, sorbic acid, and benzoic acids
Restaurants and stores have a variety of ways of packing empanadas. Some restaurants use wax paper as a wrapper, while others use aluminum foil. Some restaurants don’t wrap empanadas but instead place them inside a plastic, foam, or carton food container.
Empanada is eaten by hand. No eating utensils are necessary. Savory empanadas come with sauce or dip that matches the flavor of the filling. Sweet empanadas are eaten as a snack or dessert.
Freshly-made empanadas can be kept at room temperature while eating. Leftover empanadas should be stored in a container secured with a lid. This is safe to reheat and eat in 7 days.
Make your own cheesy beef empanada:
You can’t go wrong with a beef and cheese combination. If this pairing tastes good in a hamburger, it definitely promises to be just as yummy and filling a treat in an empanada, which will take two hours to make.
For the dough, you will need:
- 3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 c. cold butter, cut into cubes
- 3/4 c. water
- 1 large egg
For the beef filling, you will need:
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. Oregano
- 1 tsp. Cumin
- 1/2 tsp. Paprika
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 c. chopped pickled jalapeños
- 1 1/4 c. shredded Cheddar
- 1 1/4 c. Shredded Monterey Jack
- Egg wash, for brushing
- Freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish
- Sour cream, for serving
Making the dough
Step 1: Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl.
Step 2: Cut butter into the flour using your hands or a pastry cutter until pea-sized.
Step 3: Add water and egg and mix until a dough forms.
Step 4: Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Step 5: Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 400° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Making the filling
Step 1: Heat oil and add onion and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until soft
Step 2: Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
Step 3: Add ground beef and cook, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon.
Step 4: Return pan to medium heat, and stir tomato paste into beef.
Step 5: Add oregano, cumin, and paprika, and season with salt and pepper.
Step 6: Add tomatoes and jalapeños and cook until warmed through.
Step 7: Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Assembling the empanada
Step 1: Place dough on a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. Roll one half out to ¼” thick. Using a 4.5” round cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Repeat with remaining dough. Reroll scraps once to cut out more rounds.
Step 2: Lightly moisten the outer edge of a dough round with water and place about 2 tablespoons filling in the center and top with cheddar and Monterey. Fold dough in half over the filling. Use a fork to crimp edges together. Repeat with remaining filling and dough.
Step 3: Place empanadas on prepared baking sheets and brush with egg wash. Bake until golden and filling is warmed through, about 25 minutes.
Step 4: Garnish with cilantro and serve with sour cream.