I have a confession to make. I have recently been having a bit of a fling with South American cuisine. My usual staples don’t know. At least I don’t think they know. Like, they know that I haven’t been as faithful lately but I think this is the first time I have stopped really loving them.
But who could resist the crumbly pasty. The searing chillies. The enigmatic scents. The warming spices. All of these exemplified in the simple envelope of exploration that is the empanada. The staple dish of busy Artentines. Using store bought shortcrust you can make these up on the double and have them to hand for any glutinous outdoor adventures.
500g Pork Mince
1 Bunch of Mint
1 Bunch of Spring Onions
1 Red Chilli
1 Tsp Jerk Seasoning
1 Roll Shortcrust Pastry
-In a hot frying pan with a tablespoon of sunflower oil, start to fry off your pork mince until it takes on a little colour. Make sure to keep breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
-Finely chop up the spring onions, mint leaves and chilli, remove the seeds if you like.
-Add the chilli and the Jerk Seasoning into the pan and cook them off for about a minute. Turn off the heat but keep the pan on the ring.
-Quickly add in the spring onion and mint leaves and stir together well. The residual heat will be enough to cook them through.
-Juice in the lime.
-This is going to be your filling for the empanadas. Set this aside for a few hours or overnight to cool down enough to be rolled into the pastry.
-Now this is the fun pastry bit. Roll out the full sheet on a large, lightly floured surface.
-Cut it into pieces about three or four inches across. I got eight out of my sheet.
-Set them aside. One at a time, using a lightly floured rolling pin and board, roll each sheet out a little. You don’t need too much extra surface area, just a bit of thinning out of the pastry.
-Place a large tablespoon of the chilled filling into the centre of each piece of pastry.
-Fold each piece over and squeeze down two edges, leaving one open. Using your baby finger, press all of the air out of your parcels and seal the final side by pressing down firmly.
-Using a bit of flair and general messing around, fold up the edges of your empanada to create a tight seal. There are loads of ways of doing this and they all work just as well.
-Repeat this for all of your pastry sheets and place them all on a dusted baking tray. (If you have a spare egg in the fridge, whip it up in a small bowl with a drop of milk and brush it lightly over the pastries to give them a great shine when they cook.)
-Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees and cook your pastries for 25/30 minutes. Use your own instincts here as each oven is different. The pastry should be flaky and golden as it comes out.
These are perfect as they are but seriously benefit from a little dipping sauce. Chimichurri is traditional but anything from BBQ sauce to ketchup to English mustard works a treat.