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Monday, October 18, 2010

Empanadas--part of Gutsy Cooks Menu #3

I was really looking forward to this week's menu selections: empanadas and white bean soup. I've been wanting to make empanadas for years, and never got around to it, and I love white bean soup. When I looked at both recipes more carefully, though, I had some doubts.

First, the empanadas were filled with a tuna and tomato sauce. Love tuna, love tomato, but, as a filling, it sounded odd and nasty to me. But I'm kind of a stickler for making a recipe as written the first time around. Fortunately, the recipe gave chorizo as an alternative to the tuna, which I thought would not only be a better combination but would also jazz things up. (So far, I've found the recipes from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible to be somewhat bland. Jim said, "What did you expect from something that's labelled as a "family cookbook.") As it turned out, we both loved the filling and hated the crust.

The white bean soup called for cannellini beans--to be soaked overnight. Not going to have time for that this week. I could have used canned beans, which probably would have been perfectly fine, but see above part about being a stickler.

So I set aside a few hours on Sunday afternoon to make empanadas.

The dough just about did me in. Just a glance at the quantities made me furrow my brow in puzzlement. So much flour, so little liquid? Well, I thought, maybe the eggs make a difference.
I'll confess that I made the dough in the food processor, because that works better for me. I added the 2 tablespoons of water and got nothing resembling a dough.
I dumped the mess into a bowl and added another two tablespoons of water. I got a thick, crackled mess that held together (barely). Since I'd already doubled the amount of water, I was reluctant to add more.

Maybe it'll be better after a half-hour in the refrigerator, I said to myself. Delusionally, as it turned out. I pushed that dough, I pulled that dough, I did everythig you're not supposed to do in an attempt to get it rolled out into some kind of usable form. Finally, I got it to about a 1/8-inch thickness. (It was supposed to be 1/16-inch).

Then I tried to fill the rounds with enough filling to be flavorful. The rounds only wanted to hold a mere dollop. Most of mine ended up oozing filling out of them after they were baked.
I am a crust person. Not since I was six years old have I eaten a pie's filling and left the crust. But this crust just wasn't very good. It was way too thick and not tender and delicious. Imagine the concept of edible cardboard.

I'll admit to not being at dab hand at making pastry, but I was willing to take part of the blame, but I thought something was amiss with the recipe.

So I did a Google search for "empanada dough," and, sure enough, the other recipes I found have much more liquid. Here's an example from, which has less flour but considerably more water. I should have had the courage to add even more water than I did.
Here's an example of a different recipe: this one is from For comparison, the amounts in TIKB's recipe are in italics:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (3 1/4 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (1/2 tsp)
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (6 T.)
1 large egg (2 eggs)
1/3 cup ice water (2 T.)
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar (No vinegar)

The proportions in the recipe look a lot better to me, and that's the one I'll try, should I ever get up the courage to try again.

Here is the pile of crusts I left on my plate:

Taste-O-Meter Rating:
Jim: "I guess I'll give them a 5, but they're not very good. I gave the roulade a 4, and these are better than those were. I'd give the filling an 8 if I could just rate that by itself."
Marie: "A 4 because of the crust.  I agree that the filling deserves a higher rating, but the crust was crap."


  1. Marie.. You and me both were fighting it out in different parts of the country.. like you I was doubting the proportions as well.. and I made empanadas before (never with the pastry dough!) Always with the corn dough...

    I did find another recipe for them and I wrote it down on a post it and sticked it next to the TKB recipe.

    I'm hoping this weeks choices turn around...

  2. Too bad, Marie. The ones that didn't ooze, actually look alright.
    I like samosas and finally found a dough that works really well when baked (samosas are traditionally fried). I'm thinking that dough might work for you too:

    I'm thinking the secret to this dough is the buttermilk. My addition: brush the pastries with egg wash, otherwise I found the them too "white".