These pockets of joy are the best party food ever. Trust me, once you get the hang of making the half-moon shape you will be making and entertaining with them all the time.
These are great because they can be made in advance and frozen uncooked (for up to two months) and then pulled out as needed for a party snacks or even lunchbox treats. My Gaucho seasoning works perfectly with empanada filling as it has all the flavours of Argentine cuisine. Use it, and these empanadas will take you to flavour town.
I knew I had to visit Mendoza, the wine region of the famous Argentinian grape, Malbec, ever since my good friend and winemaker returned with tales of wild mountains, wild men and wild woman, and even wilder winemakers. So, as we picked up the keys to our rental car in the city of Mendoza, I was bubbling with excitement. We were about to take the 21/2 hr drive out of the city to the mountains and valleys famous for their vineyards and in particular the world renowned Malbec wine.
With my wife as chief navigator, we cranked up the music and took off, slowly weaving our way through the heavy traffic of Mendoza city before hitting the motorway and finally taking the turnoff signposted Tourist Wine route. "This is it. We are actually doing it,” I said with joy. “I cannot wait to get exploring and taste some delicious local wines,” said my wife. All of a sudden, I saw the red and blue flashing lights of a police car. My heart started racing; they were pulling us over.
With shaking hands I wound down the window and a burly moustached police officer barked at me in rapid Spanish, “Licence! Passport! Now!” “What have I done officer?” I asked, as he flicked through my passport angrily. “Your headlights were OFF!” he replied. “But it’s 11am and the sun is shining,” I said confused. “Step out of the car NOW! he ordered. “It’s illegal to drive without headlights on in Argentina and it's a big fine. I may also need to confiscate your passport and licence if you can’t pay,” he threatened. “How much is it?” I said. “Five hundred US dollars,” he barked.
My heart began to sink. “I don’t have that kind of money,” I blurted out. “This is the last stop of our tour in Argentina. We’re leaving in a few days,” I explained. “Well, it looks like I’ll have to keep your passport and licence,” he gloated. Just as I began to panic another police officer approached, with a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and large sunglasses hiding his eyes. Softly he whispered, “Show me how much you have. You can pay a smaller fine, if I don’t write up the ticket.”
It was clear now what was happening, and I reluctantly put my hand into my pocket and took out the remaining Argentinian pesos we had valued at around US$50. He looked at his partner, gave a little nod and opened up his folder. “Put the money in here,” I was told, and the folder slammed shut. “Give him back his documents. They’re free to go.” said the officer in charge. As I got back into our hire car, my wife let out a long sigh of relief. “It’s ok sweetheart,” I said. “I think we deserve a wine now,” she exclaimed. I found the headlights and put them on and cried out, “Let’s go and have some fun!”
PREP TIME: 15 mins
COOKING TIME: 45 mins
1 small onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons finely diced garlic
1kg beef mince
2 tbsps tomato paste
3 tbsps GAUCHO
1/4 cup currants
1/2 cup roughly diced parsley
1/2 cup roughly diced pitted olives 3 eggs, hard-boiled and roughly diced
10 sheets of puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 limes, cut into wedges
Preheat fan forced oven to 180 degrees.
Place large frypan over high heat, add oil, when hot add onion, cook for a few minutes or until lightly golden, then add garlic and GAUCHO and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the beef, break it up with a spoon and cook until browned.
Add tomato paste and currants and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finish by mixing through the parsley, olives and eggs.
Cool down the mix until room temperature.
Take one sheet of puff pastry and cut out a 15cm circle, place pastry round on a clean work surface, place a heaped tablespoon of filling in the centre of the pastry. Join the two sides together to make a half moon shape then pinch the pastry together on the edges.
Set aside on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Repeat with rest of pastry and filling.
Before baking, brush the empanadas with a little egg, place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and the pastry is cooked through.
Serve warm with lime and a refreshing cider or nice glass of Argentinian Malbec.