Empanadas de Pino Con Pebre (Chilean Meat Turnovers with Fresh Salsa)

For this traditional Chilean snack we offer a consolidation of recipes from Rodríguez and Margarita Rojas, house chef for Viu Manent, a winery in Chile’s Colchagua Valley.

Pino, a filling made from spiced ground beef, onions, hard-boiled eggs, black olives and raisins, gets its name from the Mapuche word "pinu." Other traditional Chilean dishes, particularly pastel del choclo (corn pie), also employ the pino filling. For empanadas, which in Chile are frequently made in a mud horno but can just as easily be baked in a modern indoor oven, the pino must be made in advance and chilled so that it won’t run when placed inside the empanadas prior to baking.

The pebre, meanwhile, is a simple Chilean salsa fresca.

Wine recommendations: With the mild sweetness of the raisins and the kick from the pebre, these empanadas, despite having a meaty base, call for something fresh and acidic. Consider Viu Manent’s Secreto Sauvignon Blanc or Montes’s brand-new Syrah rosé, called Cherub.

  • For the pino filling:
  • 6 cups onions, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or smashed
  • 2-½ tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoons 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
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons white wine (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon salt dissolved in 1 1/2 cups
  • warm water
  • To finish:
  • 24 pitted black olives
  • 3 or 4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and cut into wedges
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • Egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  • For the pebre, combine:
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chile peppers such as
  • 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
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

To make the filling: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté lightly for a few minutes. Add 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 flour in stock and add stock to mixture. Cook uncovered for up to 15 minutes, or until most of the juices have evaporated. Mixture should be moist but not runny. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

To make the dough: Sift 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 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 finish: Preheat oven to 400°F and set up a station to fill and assemble your empanadas. Before assembling, roll the dough into a log and slice into a dozen equal pieces. Working with one slice at a time, roll dough pieces into circles about 8 inches in diameter and about ¼ inch thick. Put at least two full tablespoons of pino mixture onto each circle, topping the mound off with two olives, a wedge of hard egg and a few raisins. Leave a margin of about ¾ inch and brush the margin all around with a little water. Then close the empanadas by folding each in half. To secure the filling, place the straight edge of the half-circle toward you; then fold in the left edge, the right edge, and the top to make a square. Seal the corners with your thumb, making a deep imprint.

Brush empanadas with egg wash and poke three small holes into each with a toothpick so that they breathe and won’t 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.

Published on July 6, 2010