When Kelly and I were in LA a few weeks ago, we happened to find a store that resembled an Argentine market. It’s called “El Gaucho Meat Market“. We ate some delicious empanadas there, and we also found that they sell the actual dough to make them. Of course we bought some, because I wanted to make some of my own.
My mom passed on her own recipe, and I got to it!
First of all, there were onions to be chopped. We don’t even own a chopping board, so I had to get busy on the kitchen counter. I wasn’t expecting the process to be so laborious, and it was probably one of the most time-consuming tasks of the whole recipe.
After chopping half a pound of onions, I had to cook them. I grabbed the biggest pot we own, turned the stove on and went to town. I was very pleasantly surprised as a very familiar smell started to invade my nostrils. It was a smell I wasn’t expecting to notice so early in the cooking process, but which I welcomed and took as signal that I was doing things the right way.
After the onions cook for a while, I put in a quarter pound of ground beef, and some spices (family secret!). The smell immediately turned into what I recognized as empanada filling, and everything was good in the world. Very good.
After the mix was ready, it’s empanada making time! This is the step where the acquisition of the special dough was critical, because it really does make the empanada unique. Maybe some day we’ll dare make our own dough… but baby steps!
The process was pretty easy, specially because I had some muscle memory for this step. When I was younger, I used to help my mom make them. Well, at least that’s what I remember. I probably only made one out of 3 dozens, but I still knew exactly what I was supposed to do, so I wasn’t afraid of messing up at this stage.
After making sure they all looked pretty, were nicely filled with all the mix they went in the oven. By the way, my mom’s recipe was perfect. There was no filling leftover, and all the empanadas had just enough filling! Quite impressive, specially after translating everything from kilograms to pounds.
They looked good. They smelled good. And they tasted great! They came out a little bit on the sweet side because I was weary of using too much salt, but that means that there’s room for improvement, and I know exactly what I can do better.
Kelly and I sat down to eat, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Her parents came over to visit for a bit, and we had them try them. They also enjoyed them, which was a big relief for me! And just like that, about an hour and a half worth of work in cooking was gone, in less than 30 minutes. But it was well worth it, because it was tasty, and I had a lot of fun doing it.
As soon as we figure out a reliable place to get more of the dough, I’ll be making a lot more and having people over to share the wonderful taste of this food that I very much love, and am proud of being able to make.