RECIPE - Ama's Empanadas

The country with no pasties be the first to throw the first stone. The truth is that every national gastronmy counts with some version of pasty, so to talk about the Argentinian ones, well known in the most remote places, I preferred to find a home made recipe. In Buñuelo's family, the recipe is such a well kept secret that not any of their members know it with precision, so the technique is reduced to estimations. Now, some very accurate estimations there, with their quantities in grams and times in minutes. I chose to copy the story as it was told to me:

Dough

- 750 g flour
- 300 g fat (Vegetalina or with butter is great)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cup of warm water
Paprika to taste (if you don't like it don't use it and that's it)

Procedure

1. Mix together the flour, paprika, salt and melted butter in a bowl.
2. Knead it with your hands.
3. Let it rest.
4. Spread the dough thinly with a rolling pin.
5. Cut it in circles and keep.

Meat Filling

- 500 g minced beef
- 4 onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 peppers
- 6 boiled eggs
- 200 g chopped olives
Olive oil, enough to fry
Paprika, cumin, ground ají (chili) and salt to taste.

Procedure

1. Chop the onions and fry gently in the oil.

2. You can add the garlic cloves when wanted...before frying the onions, along with the onions, afterwards... there's enough time anyway to let them cook properly...

3. Cut the peppers (red, green or yellow) in julienne and add to the onions.

4. You can mince the meat manually, that's the best but it's a lot of work. If so, my advice is to blanch it in boiling water...(I have no idea what for but well). My mum used to put the meat under cold water in order for it to "separate"...I don't know.

5. I season it with salt, black pepper and anything that comes to my mind on the day: herbes, paprika, cumin...whatever, and I let the meat cook for a while. Don't cook it too much, but I tell you, I cook it for at least 20 minutes, and then I remove it from the heat and let it cool.

6. When it's cold I adjust the seasoning, which in good creole means that I add all the spices I forgot to add before: more black pepper, paprika, cumin and ground ají (chili).

7. Add also the chopped olives, and if you like sweet&sour, don't hesitate on adding some raisins (seedless, logically).

8. Take a dough circle, wet the borders with water, place the filling in the middle and close it. Repeat with the rest.

9. I like to paint the pasties with egg yolk... and, if I remember, I mix the yolks with sugar.

10. And there you have them ready to put them in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Tuna variety:
Everything the same, but instead of minced meat you add 2 big cans of good old tuna. My mum usually adds some sardines also. If you can find some it's a great combination.