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Colombian-Style Pork Empanadas


Empanada Dough

2 cups flour

1 large whole egg and 1 large egg yolk

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons frozen lard, cut to small pieces

1⁄2 cup chilled butter, cut to small pieces

4 tablespoons ice water


8 ounces boneless pork shoulder or Boston butt

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1⁄2 onion, minced

1⁄2 pasilla chili or green bell pepper: stemmed, seeded and minced

1 1⁄2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tomato, peeled and chopped

1 1⁄2 teaspoons chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives

1 1⁄2 teaspoons capers, rinsed and finely chopped

1 1⁄2 teaspoons raisins, chopped

1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1⁄4 cup dry sherry

1 small hard-boiled egg, chopped


1. To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, butter and lard in a mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer or (if by hand) a pastry blender, cut the butter and lard into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the egg, egg yolk, and water; beat lightly. Pour this into the flour mixture and combine quickly, being very careful not to overmix. Stop just before the dough actually comes together completely, and finish it with a few pats by hand.

3. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and flatten it to a 1-inch-thick disk. Chill for at least 1 hour (and up to overnight).

4. To make the filling, trim the meat of any fat, gristle or tough sinew. Finely chop it by hand, or you could run it through on the coarse blade of a meat grinder. If you choose to do that, make sure the grinder and the meat are both very cold before you start.

5. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and chili; cook 2 or 3 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

6. Next, stir in the pork and continue cooking till it is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes.

7. Add the tomato, olives, capers, raisins, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and sherry. Continue cooking until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Allow the mixture to cool completely, then add the egg and mix well. Set the filling aside.

8. About 10 minutes before you are ready to fill the empanadas, remove the dough from the fridge. Frozen dough should be allowed to defrost overnight in the refrigerator first. In either case, the dough should be cold when you work with it.

9. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out circles using a 4-inch round pastry cutter. You can chill the scraps for 10 minutes, then gently combine them and roll them out again. Don’t use the scraps again, though, as the dough will get tough. When I tested this, I was able to get 21 rounds.

10. To fill the empanadas, place 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling just off center on each dough circle, leaving room around the edges for sealing. Fold into half-moons and crimp the edges with your fingers.

11. The empanadas can be baked right away, or you can freeze them and finish them later. To freeze, place them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer. When frozen solid, put them in freezer bags and return them to the freezer. Use them up within 4 weeks, if you can.

12. To bake the empanadas, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Frozen empanadas will take an extra 10 to 15 minutes; they should go straight from the freezer to the hot oven.

Serves 6 to 8 (makes 24 to 32, depending on size)

Reprinted with permission from Big Small Plates by Cindy Pawlcyn with Pablo Jacinto and Erasto Jacinto, copyright © 2006. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. Photo Credit: Laurie Smith.


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