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Updated: Jul 6, 2019

Spicy Beef Barbacoa Empanadas with Chimichurri sauce

One of my most favourite things to eat is empanadas. I don't mind if they are sweet or savoury - I love the crispy, flaky pastry the most - but I do have a few favourite fillings that I would love to share, so that everyone can enjoy these delicious morsels!

Firstly, to make the dough - you need to decide if you are going to be baking them or frying them - it will mean an adjustment to the fat you use. Easiest way to remember is:

Fat is for Frying, and Butter is for baking!

Just substitute out butter with lard or duck fat depending on the method you choose. PS Frying gives a crispier crunch

The Dough:

  • 3 Cups Flour

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/4 Cup Duck Fat ( Use Veggie shortening if wanting a Vegan option)

  • 1 tsp white vinegar

  • 1 Cup Iced water


  1. Add Flour and salt together in mixing bowl, then add in the fat, water, vinegar and mix together until combined.

  2. Knead using hook attachment or Thermomix for approx 3 minutes - or until smooth

  3. Wrap and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Cut dough into 4 portions, then laminate and roll using a pasta roller so that the dough is thin - but not transparent - I usually go to the second last setting.

  5. Dust surface with cornflour, then cut rounds using a large pastry cutter.

  6. Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle then fold over to be a half circle shape.

  7. Fold closed or use the end of a fork to seal together.

  8. Heat Frying oil to 180C and fry until golden and crispy!


If you don't want to eat them straight away, you can freeze before cooking the, - just be sure to stack them between baking paper with cornflour dusted to avoid them from sticking together. You can fry straight from frozen - usually about 5 minutes - but do a tester first to make sure they are cooked all the way through!

You can get empanada pressers online or at cooking stores, or google how to fold an empanada and you can pick it up pretty quickly. If you are short on time - just press all edges together with a fork for a more rustic look.

When baking - substitute butter for the fat, and bake on a tray in a hot oven for 7-10 minutes. In parts of Cuba, they sprinkle with sugar - even on a savoury empanada - and while it wasn't my favourite method, I can see how it would be great with the right kind of filling!

Filling Options:

You can really use any kind of filling that you fancy - but here are a couple that I really love -and I used these 2 fillings when I cooked my latin feast dinner and the feedback was great! Feel free to play around with fillings and find some that you just cant live without!

Black Bean and garlic: ( Vegan option if using shortening in the dough)

  • 1 can of Black beans

  • 1 head of garlic cloves

  • 2 Cups Good quality Olive oil

  • 1 TBSP MammaJos Carnitas mix

  • Handful of thyme sprigs

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Confit the peeled garlic cloves, with thyme and olive oil - over a low heat for 30 minutes or until soft - remove from heat and reserve oil for future use, discard thyme and set aside cloves.

  2. Add the confit cloves and cumin to the black beans and season to taste.

  3. Mix together/chop roughly, and then set aside until dough is ready to roll

Spicy Beef Barbacoa:

  • 1 kg boneless shortribs, or chuck roast

  • 60g Black Magik MammaJo spice mix

  • 1 Cup Cherry Juice

  • 2 Bay leafs

  • 1 star anise

  1. In a slow cooker, use the spice mix to rub all over the beef, then add in all other ingredients and set to slow cook for 6 hours

  2. Once finished, remove meat from the juice and allow to cool slightly before shredding, then add back into the juice and reduce down so that the juice is absorbed and meat caramelises - up to 30 minutes using a medium heat. Discard Bay leaves and star anise.

  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

  4. When dough is ready to roll, add a tablespoon of beef mix to the middle and either fold edges or seal using a fork.

  5. Fry in hot oil set to 180C about 5 minutes or until golden and crispy.

  6. Serve with a Chimichurri sauce (see below)

My Chimichurri Sauce:

  • 2 Bunches Coriander - washed thoroughly - roots removed.

  • 1 Bunch Flat leaf parsley - washed thoroughly

  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano

  • 2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

  • Juice from 1 lemon, plus zest

  • 2 Long red chillies, 1 long green chillie

  • 2 Cups Good Quality EVOO - Cobram is my preferred

You can blitz all in a food processor if you are in a hurry, but it will become an emulsified sauce as opposed to a mixed leaf sauce - both will have flavour, but I prefer to hand chop where possible as to me, I like the look of it better - You do you! Below is the by hand method.

  1. Remove most of the stalks from parsley and chop finely, along with coriander.

  2. Add in the dried oregano, vinegar, lemon juice and zest, and chopped chillies, then add in the oil and mix by hand until you have your preferred consistency.

  3. Use as a dipping sauce for the empanadas, and save the rest for marinades, and sauces for meat - goes great with lamb, beef and chicken.

NOTE: When refrigerating Olive oil, it will solidify, so you will need to remove from the fridge with plenty of time when you need to use it again. Try to use within 2 weeks. You can substitute grape-seed oil instead, which will not solidify when refrigerated - but will have a lesser flavour.

When using a food processor, the mixture emulsifies - but is still delicious

Happy cooking - hope you enjoy feasting on these at your next bbq or dinner party!



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