But in Chile they are something of an obsession. You could call empanadas the national dish of Chile, and no one will argue with you. In Chile, they can be bought in restaurants, bakeries, fast food restaurants that specialize only in empanadas and bars. And, of course, you can also pick them up from street vendors, especially near busy train stations.

Although they are an integral part of life in Latin America, it is known that empanadas came from Spain, where they appreciated the recipe in a Catalan cookbook back in 1520. one theory suggests that it is the Spanish and Portuguese versions of Middle Eastern Samos.

The word “empanada” comes from the Spanish verb “empanar”, which means “to wrap something in bread”. But what is an empanad, a filling completely wrapped in dough. The genius of empanadas is that the filling can consist of almost anything.

It can be sweet or salty; meat, fruit or vegetarian. I’ve heard of empanadas filled with razor clams, lobsters or bananas with Nutella. If it’s edible and small enough to fit in an empanad, probably someone made it.

But today we are interested in empanadas from Chile. The most common to date are two types of Chilean empanadas: empanadas de pino, which are filled with a mixture of beef and onion, and raisins, olives and pieces of hard-boiled eggs; and empanadas de queso, which are stuffed with sticky cream cheese.

Empanadas de Pina with beef are usually baked, and cheese empanadas de Queso are usually fried, but both types can be prepared in both ways.

I am a traditionalist, so I baked beef and fried cheese. Either way, and with any filling, they were gorgeous.

The trick to making cheese empanadas is to use a cheese that melts easily. I’ve looked at a few recipes to try to reach a consensus, but all I’ve found is chaos. One story talked about cheddar empanadas, which to me look too much like a fried cheese sandwich.

Now that I think about it, that’s a great idea.

Most other recipes involved mozzarella, while others used munster. The mozzarella is a bit soft, while too much munster would be too much, so I went for a savory compromise. I used a combination of them, preferring mozzarella over munster.

So they pay me big money. It was a happy mix that went perfectly with the fried golden and almost puff pastry.

I’m happy to report that the beef empanadas were as good as the cheese. They may require a little more effort, but they are worth it.

First I fried the onions and then did a trick that I took from Indian cuisine: I added spices directly to the onion. It strongly flavored the onion and oil, which then gave these flavors to the beef when I added it in just a few seconds.

Next comes a little sauce – it’s just a matter of adding beef broth, water and flour to the pan – and then olives, raisins (for a share of contrasting sweetness) and a hard-boiled egg that make the dish uniquely Chilean.

The beef empanadas were incredibly satisfying, especially since I made the stuffing the night before to make the flavors merge.

I’ve baked beef empanadas in the traditional rectangular shape and fried cheese empanadas in the traditional crescent shape, but honestly, you can make them in any shape you want and they’ll be just as delicious.

These empanadas are just glorious. You can easily understand why they are such a comforting part of Chilean culture. They are so insurmountable that they want to move to Chile just for the sake of empanadas.

But why take on all these worries when you can do them yourself?

EMPANADE TEST

Yield: 12 servings

2 pounds of all-purpose flour, about 7 cups

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

7 ounces (1 lean cup) of lard

2 cups water

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Cut the lard with a blender or 2 knives until the mixture becomes crumb-like (alternatively, melt the lard and mix it). Add water, little by little, and mix together or mix with your perfectly clean hands until the dough is collected; you may need to use less or more water. Briefly knead until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Both the dough and the empanada cheeses can be frozen.

Per serving: 426 calories; 17 g of fat; 7 g of saturated fat; 16 mg cholesterol; 8 g of protein; 58 g of carbohydrates; 1 g of sugar; 2 g of fiber; 198 mg of sodium; 67 mg of calcium

Daniel Neman’s recipe

CHEESE EMPANADE

Yield: 12 servings

24 ounces of shredded cheese that melts easily, such as mozzarella or munster, or a combination of cheeses

Empanada dough or chilled dough for pies

Frying oil

Cut the empanada dough in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Use a bowl or similar tool to cut 6 uniform circles out of the dough, ideally about 7 inches in diameter.

Put a few tablespoons of cheese in half one circle, leaving a limit of ½ inches. Fill the border with water. Fold half of the circle over the filling and press to press tightly. Squeeze the curb or press with forks. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, including the dough in the refrigerator.

Pour the oil into a large saucepan to a depth of a few inches. Heat over medium heat to 350 degrees. Gently fry the empanada in small batches until golden brown, a few minutes. Dry on paper towels and serve warm.

Per serving: 674 calories; 37 g of fat; 14 g of saturated fat; 53 mg of cholesterol; 21 g of protein; 63 g of carbohydrates; 1 g of sugar; 1 g of fiber; 584 mg of sodium; 466 mg of calcium

Daniel Neman’s recipe

BEEF EMPANADE

Yield: 12 servings

2 tablespoons oil

1 large onion, chopped

½ teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 pound of beef, for example, on top, cut into cubes ½ inches

½ teaspoon of salt

Ground pepper

12 pitted olives

24 raisins

½ cups of beef broth

½ glasses of water

1 tablespoon of universal flour

Empanada dough (see recipe) or chilled pie dough

3 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters

1 egg, optional

1 tablespoon milk, optional

Note: This recipe is best if the filling can rest overnight.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat until shiny. Add the onions and fry until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin and paprika until all the onions are stained into the mixture. Add beef and salt. Season well with pepper. Cook the beef for a few minutes. Stir in olives and raisins.

Add broth and water, bring to a boil. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and ceases to taste like flour.

Try salt and pepper. If possible, refrigerate overnight.

When baking empanada, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the empanada dough in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator.

Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Use a bowl or similar tool to cut uniform circles out of the dough, ideally about 7 inches in diameter.

Put a couple of tablespoons of the filling on half of one circle, including 1 olive, leaving a limit of ½ inches. Add one slice of hard-boiled egg.

Fill the border with water. Fold half of the circle over the filling and press to press tightly. Fold over the compressed sides to form a rectangle. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, including the dough in the refrigerator.

If desired, beat the egg and milk and grease them with a brush to make a glaze (do this only when baking empanadas, not frying). Bake until golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes; or fry in small batches for a few minutes in oil at 350 degrees until golden brown. When fried, pat dry on paper towels.

Per serving (using the baked method): 577 calories; 24 g of fat; 9 g of saturated fat; 125 mg of cholesterol; 28 g of protein; 61 g of carbohydrates; 2 g of sugar; 2 g of fiber; 408 mg of sodium; 93 mg of calcium

Daniel Neman’s recipe

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