12 Steps to Perfect Traditional Chilean Empanadas
For this traditional Chilean snack, we offer a consolidation of recipes from Chef Pilar Rodríguez and Margarita Rojas, the late house chef at Vio Manent, a winery in Chile's Colchagua Valley. We'll walk you through the recipe and give you a step-by-step guide for making these delectable parcels of spiced ground beef, onions, hard-boiled eggs, black olives and raisins (called pinu) with a simple pembre, or salsa fresca.
Photos by Francesco Majo
Food and prop styling by Erin Merhar
For the Pino filling:
3–4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ cup chicken or beef stock
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Dough:
7 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces vegetable shortening, melted
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon salt, dissolved in 1½ cups warm water
For the Pebre:
1 medium red onion, minced
2 tablespoons red bell pepper, minced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons fresh chili peppers like jalapeño or serrano, seeded and minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Dash of red wine vinegar
24 pitted black olives
3–4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and cut into wedges
½ cup golden raisins
Egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
To Make the Filling: Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Lightly sauté the onion for a few minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, paprika, cumin and Cayenne pepper, stirring occasionally but not browning. Add the ground beef and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the flour in the stock and add to the skillet. Cook uncovered for up to 15 minutes, or until most of the juices have evaporated; the mixture should be moist, but not runny. Add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.
To Make the Dough: Sift the flour onto a clean, smooth work surface. Make a well in the center; add the shortening, butter, wine and some of the salt water. Using a wooden spoon and adding more salt water as needed, combine the ingredients as quickly as possible until you get a soft dough. Do not overwork the dough, or it will result in an overly tough pastry. Wrap in a kitchen towel and let sit for 15 minutes.
To Make the Pebre: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and set aside.
To Finish: Preheat oven to 400˚F and set up a station to fill and assemble your empanadas. Roll the dough into a log and slice into 12 equal pieces. Working with one slice at a time, roll the dough pieces into circles about 8 inches in diameter and about ¼-inch thick. Put at least 2 tablespoons of pino mixture onto each circle, topping the mound with 2 olives, a wedge of hard-boiled egg and a few raisins. Leave a margin of about ¾ inch and brush the margin all around with a little water. Close the empanadas by folding each in half. To secure the filling, place the straight edge of the half-circle toward you. Fold in the edges and the top to make a crescent. Seal the corners with your thumb, making a deep imprint.
Brush the empanadas with egg wash and poke three small holes into each with a toothpick so that they don’t break open during baking. Bake 20 minutes, or until the pastry is nicely browned and the filling is piping hot. Serve immediately with freshly made pebre. Makes 12.
10. Fold in half, then pinch edges to close.
11. Brush the soon-to-be crust with egg wash.
12. Poke three air holes in dough before baking.
- 2The Complete Empanada Recipe
- 3Prepping the Dough
- 4Rolling Out the Dough
- 5Filling it Up
- 6Finishing Touches