The popular empanada is a flaky and savory filled pastry. Chileans will never agree on the best recipe, they always have a secret ingredient or a secret trick. Here is the most common basic recipe. Making empanadas is a time consuming effort, and there are two important pointers. The secret for a not runny and juicy filling is preparing the meat mix the day before and refrigerate it. The dough itself should be flaky and cooked all the way through. Be sure to use a hot oven that has been properly preheated.
recipe from Chile Naturally
7 to 8 cups of all-purpose flour
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) good quality lard or 4 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening plus 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon salt dissolved in 2 cups warm water
On a clean wood surface, sift the flour. Make a well in the center, add the lard and some of the salted water, add more of the water as needed. Using a wooden spoon, combine all the ingredients as quickly as possible; knead very well for about five minutes until a soft dough is formed. Do not overwork the dough, it will result in a tough pasty. Wrap the dough in a clean kitchen towel and keep it warm and workable, let it rest for 15 minutes.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups finely chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 lb. beef for stewing, cut into ¼ inch cubes, or ground beef
1 tablespoon all-purpose flower
¾ cup beef broth (preferably homemade)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 hard boiled eggs, shelled and quartered
Ripe whole black olives, pitted
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for glaze
Heat oil in a large skill over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned (5 minutes). Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne. Add the meat and cook, stirring occasionally (5 minutes). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour over the meat mixture and stir well. Pour broth and cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the juices have evaporated (10 to 15 minutes). The mixture should be moist but not runny. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
At this time, set up a filling station for the empanadas. Have all the ingredients ready, the cold meat mixture, eggs, raisins, olives and glaze.
Preheat oven to 400 F (205 C)
Shape dough into a large sausage, and slice into 12 equal pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered. Roll out each piece of dough into an 8-inch round about ¼ inch thick. Spoon about ¼ cup of filling onto each circle, leaving a ¾ edge margin. Top each one with 1 egg quarter, 3 raisins and 2 olives. Brush the margins all around with water and fold circles in half. To enclose the filling securely, fold each half circle into a square: place the straight edge of the half-circle towards you; then fold in left edge, then right edge, and lastly the top one to make a square. Seal the corners with your thumb by making a deep imprint in each one.
Brush each ready empanada with the egg yolk mixture. With a toothpick prick 3 to 4 holes in each one to prevent it from opening up while baking. Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is nicely browned and the filling is piping hot. Serve at once. Baked empanadas can be easily reheated.