Saturday, March 12, 2016

Empanada (Meat and Vegetable Turnover)

Empanada, also known as turnover or hand pie is a baked or fried pastry that is stuffed with meat, potatoes, carrots, peas, raisins, cheese and/or egg.  The name empanada comes from the Spanish word "empanar" which means "to wrap."  The dish is introduced by the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines in the 16th century.  There are several versions of empanada in Latin and Asian countries.

The empanada in the Philippines usually contains meat such as ground beef, pork or chicken and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, peas, onions, raisins, cheese and/or egg. Optional fillings include raisins, hard-boiled egg and olives. It is served as an appetizer, snack or as an accompaniment to a larger meal.


Prep Time:  90 minutes
Cooking Time:  45 minutes
Yield:  12 large empanada pieces (or 24 small pieces)


  • 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water (at room temperature)
  • 1 large egg, beaten (for the egg wash)


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 small red potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 pound ground beef (90-97% lean), ground pork, or minced chicken
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup raisins, soaked in hot water gor 5 minutes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
  • 3 stalks green onions, chopped


Dough Preparation:
  1. In a mixing bowl whisk flour and salt together. 
  2. Slowly add the oil while whisking.
  3. Slowly add the water until the mixture achieves tge consistency of a dough.
  4. Transfer dough on a clean surface and knead for 12 minutes or until smooth.

  5. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Flatten each part using a rolling pin.  Wrap separately in cling wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes covered with a dish towel. Dough maybe made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. (Proceed to cooking the filling while the dough is resting.)
  6. Divide the each chilled dough into 6 pieces about 1/4 cup each (or 12 pieces if making small empanadas.) (Do this step after Step 6 of Filling Preparation.)
  7. Flatten each piece with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.  Roll each piece of dough to about the size of a bread plate.
Filling Preparation:
  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat.  Saute onion and garlic for 2 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add paprika.
  2. Add beef (or other meat) and soy sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir for 5 minutes or until the meat is brown.
  3. Add the carrots and potatoes.  Cover.  Remove cover after 4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the olives, sweet peas (if using) and raisins.  Continue cooking for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the green onions and hard-boiled eggs at the end.  Remove from heat and drain excess liquid.  
  6. Let the filling cool completely by spreading it on a large wide plate and putting it in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.   (Proceed to Step 6 of the Dough Preparation.)
  7. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.  (Skip this step if you are frying the empanada.)
  8. Fill half of each piece of flattened dough with 1/3 cup of the cooled filling or 2 tablespoons if making smaller empanadas.  Fold the other half over to wrap the filling as if it's a pocket.  Firmly press the edges to seal the "pouch" or pocket.

  9. Place empanadas on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.  
  10. Lightly brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash.  Bake the empanadas for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. (Skip this step if you are frying the empanada and proceed to Step 11.)
  11. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Fry the empanadas for 3-4 minutes each side or until the crust is golden brown. 


*   Unbaked empanadas (without the eggwash) can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. Tightly seal them in freezer bags.  When ready to bake, take it out from the freezer, brush the tops with the eggwash and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

*  Optional ingredients for the filling include cheese and/or hard-boiled egg.

*   Smaller empanada can be made by equally dividing the dough into 24 pieces (about 1/8 cup of dough per piece) and putting about 2 tablespoons of filling in each.

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