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Today I discovered for the first time (in a New York shop, see report here) Colombian empanadas, I knew that Chile had them as well as Argentina obviously. I am curious as to what the differences are from country to country (from dough to filling) and are they ubiquitous in all of Latin America?

Here is my observation so far: They seem to be baked in Chile, very bready with a smooth and polished crust. The Argentine version that I know is fried (had those in an Argentine bakery in Miami). Had them in Venezuela with a fried corn dough and also had them in Dominican Republic in an almost paper thin fried bready crust.

I am sure I am very off the mark, thus my question...so any Latin American Empanada experts out there???


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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I'm far Latin America and am also far from being an expert on empanadas, however- here in the Philippines there also are a huge variety of empanadas. But the most common ones I've seen and eaten have a pastry like- flaky crust and meaty(plus some carrots and raisins type) filling- and most of them are fried although some people also bake empanadas. Some people just put different kinds of cheese, - sometimes just curds with butter and pepper or cayenne.

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In Peru they make cheese and meat empanadas, the meat ones are a ground beef mixture with raisins, onions, sometimes olives (similar to filling for papa rellena). The dough is also a flaky pastry-like crust, although that depends on the skill and taste of the baker (they're baked)

In Spain, empandas are filled with a cod mixture.... eeehh

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In Argentina you have them both baked and fried.

The most common fillings are:

- knife-cut meat (as opposed to grounded), and several variations of it (with or without olives, raisins, potato, etc).

- ham and cheese.

- cheese and onions.

- a corn and bechamel mixture.

and then you have the less popular varieties, such as canned tuna, chicken, cheese tomato and basil, and a few others.

SD

edited to add: In NY you can have Argentinian empadanas in most argie restaurants, such as Noveccento, Mamma Linda, etc in Manhattan or other places throughout Queens.

There's a fairly decent uruguayan place in (I think) Grand and West Broadway that has good empanadas as well.


Edited by Silly Disciple (log)

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I find it funny that here in New York, Empanadas are almost always associated with Argentina. It seems somewhat apparent that they are common throughout South America, some parts of the Caribbean and even as far as the Philippines (By the way Ninjai Fanatic, are they also called Empanadas there?).

Having said this and looking at the facts, it looks like all these countries share one thing in common: a more or less distant colonial past with Spain. Does anyone know if Empanadas originated there?


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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I opened a bake shop six years ago in the west-end of Toronto, Ontario that exclusively sells Philippine empanadas and sweet bean paste pastry. Our crust is egg enriched puff pastry and the filling is a basic minced pork mixture that we also use for filling omelets, i.e. course minced pork, sauteed in garlic, onions and tomatoes and then extended with, green peas, diced carrots, diced sweet red peppers, a little bit of raisins and lots of diced potatoes. Rose Levy Beranbaum has a similar filling recipe in her Pie and Pastry Bible. We bake them. Our clientele is made up of roughly 50% Filipinos and the other half, Latin Americans and other immigrant groups. This our version of empanada is a take-off of my mother’s. My mom’s, however, looked more like Italian sfogliatelle and were fried and never got any chance to cool down.

I just came back from a trip to Brazil and Argentina. Brazil’s version is called empadas and are like chicken pot pies in that they are molded in mini tart pans and the filling has a sort of bechamel sauce in it. The Argentine version that I tasted in Buenos Aires, however, are made with crust that looks like pita bread sealed with a perfectly rolled rope edging. I also noted that moochers in the pedestrial street where my hotel was ask you for change to buy empanada.


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Mexican empanadas can be baked or fried. Pumpkin empanadas was my first introduction to them in Mexico 40 + years ago, sold on the street and blistering hot from a pan over a brazier.

It was handed to me wrapped in a piece of banana leaf so I wouldn't burn my fingers.

Since then I have had them with many types of filling, meats, poultry, fish, cheese, fruit and vegetables.

My neighbor makes little "2-bite" empanadas filled with carnitas that are impossible to resist. They are good hot or cold and her kids tell me they were a favorite to carry in their lunch to school.


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Empanadas? Oh man, don't get me started. :laugh:

I've been spending about a month each year for the past several years in South America. That would include Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Argentina. I most recently spent all of April in Buenos Aires. Lots to do there. New Yorkers wouldn't find the idea of staying in one great city to be unreasonable. I've been known to have an empanada or three.

Empanadas are in all those places, having originated in Spain. My understanding is that they are particularly popular in Galicia in Spain which is Celtic. You also have those meat pies originating in the Celtic regions of Britain. Therefore, I would bet that British meat pies and the empanadas in the Spanish-speaking world are directly related. Northern Portugal is Celtic as well. I bet that explains those empanada relatives in Brazil. It's all a melting pot down there anyway.

I never tried empanadas in Peru but can say they are quite popular in the other countries I listed. I tend to associate empanadas with Argentina just because they seem particularly ubiquitous there. I've met my fair share of empanada addicts in Buenos Aires. No surprise to hear that a homeless person asked for empanada money since empanadas can be dirt cheap and great value. More than once, I've gotten in discussions about empanadas with the locals in the pubs (there's British influence in Buenos Aires). Seems everyone's got an opinion.

All sorts of empanadas in Argentina:

Baked or fried

Dough for baked empanadas can be made with lard or other animal fat or as puff pastry or shortcrust

Ground beef (most common in my opinion), chopped beef

Chicken

Shrimp

Merluza (white fish)

Cheese (mozzarella) [more Argentines claim Italian descent than anything else, including Spanish which follows closely]

Humita (corn)

Chard

Cinnamon/Cheese

Preserves (quince, sweet potato, guava, etc.)

pretty much anything they eat down there can end up in an empanada :biggrin:

The empanadas from the north, empanadas salteñas (from the region of Salta), are spicy. I really like those. The ones I had in La Paz and Copacabana, Bolivia were similar. The ones in Uruguay seemed like the ones in Buenos Aires. No surprise since that country is basically to Argentina like Canada is to the United States, a mere satellite. OK, just kidding. Please don't send hate mail. :biggrin: I only had a small number of empanadas in Chile but the thing I noticed there is that they seemed to make them a fair amount larger.

You can have empanadas as a complete meal with a combination of different types with even a sweet one at the end. I like to drop by a hole-in-the-wall and order a large plate of these along with a glass or bottle (prices are low down there for us) of good Argentine wine. I noticed a lot of business executive types downtown would have their lunch this way. You can certainly have empanadas as an appetizer too. Some restaurants will give you an empanada when you take your seat.


Edited by esvoboda (log)

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The thing about empanadas in Argentina is to make sure the filling is MOIST. Thus, in addition to a fair amount of fat in the browning of the meat, you use onions that have been sweated (not browned). The seasonings usually include cumin, raisins and chopped egg.

One unusual thing that I remember is the dipping of an empanada in a bowl of sugar, like you would a pot sticker in the dipping sauce. It's actually very good that way. I don't know where the custom originates from.

It's like asking a Spaniard about paella: you'll get 1 million recipes and each is the one and only. I've tasted empanadas in several argentine provinces: Salta (outstanding and sort of spicy) and Tucuman (better than outstanding; don't remember them spicy but we stood in line on Saturday night at an empanada place where it seems everybody HAD TO have their product -- was out of this world)....

A sort of amusing story has my husband (he's a New Yorker) going to Buenos Aires to work and they order lunch so they can continue working. Several pizza boxes arrive and he was all set for a pizza lunch, but no! the boxes were full of all kinds of empanadas: it's a staple.

BTW, pizza in Argentina is GOOD: all variaties, including faina (the chickpea "pizza") thin and thick crust and I've never had an unsatifactory one. So it empanadas is not for you..

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A North American version of an empanada is the fried pies of the South. And also, in Louisiana, the town of Natchiotche is famous for their meat pies. And I have had empanadas at Mexican restaurants around the South.


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¿Cómo se comen las empanadas salteñas? (How to eat Salteña empanadas)

The content at the link above is in Spanish but you can run it through a translator like Google Language Tools (translate a web page) if you need to. The links on that page won't work properly for some reason if you do that but you can just scroll to each section.

This is a great article, a great tutorial in the "art of eating empanadas"! Thanks for the link...


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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Ahh, my first post, and one of my favorite topics, empanadas!

Empanadas are found throughout south and central america, and can be quite different in different places. Even within Argentina, where I am, there are numerous regional variations, the most common being those from Tucuman, San Juan, Salta, and Catamarca. And they really are quite different, for example:

Emapandas Tucumanas tend to have cracker thin, crispy crusts, are usually baked, and tend to rely on a lot of cheese and bechamel-type sauces inside.

Empanadas Catamarquenas rely heavily on potatoes and chopped egg, the dough is a little thicker and richer, lard plays a big part in the production of these. They also tend to be a little spicier than most other Argentinian empanadas. Baked or fried.

Empanadas Saltenas contain tons of green onions. It's like a mission to pack as many green onions into them as possible. Potatoes and olives also figure prominently. Almost always baked, the crust is thin and crackerlike here as well.

Empanadas Sanjuaninos have an interesting set formula of equal parts of caramelized onion to whatever the main ingredient is. As best I can tell, it's invariable in "properly" made empanadas from this region. Deep frying the entire empanada is also popular for these.

There are numerous other regional variations, stylistic variationas (like "empanadas arabes" which are pan-fried, folded-over pita bread filled with a meat and olive paste) and also, of course, national variations (my god, chilenos actually eat empanadas with fish in them! :wink: )


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Actually the other day made Chilean type empanadas (bread machine mixing is a breeze) Empanadas borders are folded on their three sides unlike Argentineans that require crimping (replugo).

I made the pino(filling) with an imported alino (sorry no tilde on my keyboard) (condiment mix) plenty onions, sultanas and eggs (onions double the amount of meat and a little meat stock) they were delish.

Very quick preparation of dough in my bread machine mixing is a breeze

I use high grade flour, shortening, salt one egg yolk and then refrigearted for an hour or so before making this large dough rounds


Edited by piazzola (log)

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I find it funny that here in New York, Empanadas are almost always associated with Argentina. 

I'll respectfully disagree with that statement. Go into any Puerto Rican or Dominican neighborhood cafe in NYC (and there are lots of them) and you'll find empanadas offered. Typically filled with ground beef or minced chicken and always fried. There's also a less widely sold Dominican variety that's made with mashed plantain as the "dough" and filled with beef then deep fried.

I've only tried Ecuadorian cuisine once - out on Long Island if I recall correctly. They had empanadas of a sort but they were very flat and thin with cheese I think. The bagel shop in Rutherford NJ whereI lived from '99 until '03 (just west of NYC) was owned by Colombians. They had empanada that were smaller and thick than the Puerto Rican / Dominican variety and very dense rather than having a looser filling. Served with a homemade salsa like condiment that had lots of cilantro - very good.

I assume there's a Cuban version also but my GF in NJ was Cuban and I don't recall her family ever serving them nor did I see them when we got food from a neighborhood restaurant in West NY (which has a huge Cuban population).

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Well not in many other countries exist one way or another many forms of empanadas with different names anyway

Indians make the oldest of all Samosa meat or vegetarian versions and they suppose to have invented it

It's only the filling that more often changes but it is basically the same principle and instead of adobe oven some may use tandir or tandoori ovens like The Uzbeks, Khazaks and Kirgiz make Samsas

Mongolian and Siberian Russians make Ku'shuurs

Tartars of Crimea and Caucasian peoples make Chebureki

or even the shallow fried versions of Piroshkies or pierogies (pir means fried) in a number of shapes (meat,eggs,onions,mushrooms) from Poland, Ukraine, Russia.

Perhaps and because Argentinean empanadas are associated with pizzerias in Buenos Aires and cold weather they have become better known in other parts as Argentineans.

Even Italian and Lebanese if they fold the leavened bread in two they call it calzoni (sorry don't know its Arabic name)


Edited by piazzola (log)

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I must chime in on colombian empanadas, as I am married to a Colombian and she is eating two as I type this. Colombian empanadas are always deep fried, and are typically made of masa amarilla, which is essentially ground boiled down corn. The filling contains beef, chicken carrots and maybe a couple of potatoes. They are typically smaller than Argentine empanadas.

They are especially tasty with a hot sauce

You can get good ones in Jackson Heights queens on 37th avenue

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I must chime in on colombian empanadas, as I am married to a Colombian and she is eating two as I type this.  Colombian empanadas are always deep fried, and are typically made of masa amarilla, which is essentially ground boiled down corn.

They are especially tasty with a hot sauce 

You can get good ones in Jackson Heights queens on 37th avenue

Hmm! Like to know more about this ground corn type of dough

Is it masa para arepa the ones used for this type? or just yellow cornmeal?

Would like to get the recipe for the dough if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks

I east my Argentinean empanadas with few slices of jalapenos in then YUM!So my jar is never too far away

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I find it funny that here in New York, Empanadas are almost always associated with Argentina. 

I'll respectfully disagree with that statement. Go into any Puerto Rican or Dominican neighborhood cafe in NYC (and there are lots of them) and you'll find empanadas offered. Typically filled with ground beef or minced chicken and always fried. There's also a less widely sold Dominican variety that's made with mashed plantain as the "dough" and filled with beef then deep fried.

You're correct actually, i was thinking more in terms of south america and not the caribbean.

Although they are called empanadas, for some reason I've always placed dominican or puerto rican versions of it in a different category. My experience with dominican empanadas more precisely is that of a flat, thin and round crusty dough with a loose filling. Some are actually made with catibia flour, a derivative of yuca (which dominicans will tell you are the "authentic" dominican empanadas). Some people refer to them as empanadas, I've heard others call them pasteles or even cativias. In my eyes, they are somewhat different from the empanadas I associate with south america, but they are indeed empanadas nonetheless.


"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler

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Even Italian and Lebanese if they fold the leavened bread in two they call it calzoni (sorry don't know its Arabic name)

In Algeria those are called cocas in certain regions. Other regions have different names.

We also call variations samsas, boureks, etc...


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Yeah I know samsas cooked in tandir from Russia and Uzbek baking and Tartar chebureki (rectangular)from Crimea Ukraine

not sure burek are the same though


Edited by piazzola (log)

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Yeah I know samsas cooked in tandir from Russia and Uzbek baking and Tartar chebureki (rectangular)from Crimea Ukraine

not sure burek are the same though

That's interesting to me, I did not know that.

In researching food history I've come to the realization that there are many cuisines/cultures that one can be placed centrally, drop it in the center like a stone in a pond and watch the ripples of influence that came in and were exported out.


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I did not know myself until went on a visit to my parents homeland taken a side tour of Siberia and found lots of interesting intermingling cultures especially in Central Asia and beyond it was an amazing experience witness pehaps the oldest empanada made by Mongolians but they call it Ku'usshur

rough but still the same ground lamb and onions with a half moon shape and water, fat, salt the dough ingredients baked in a kind of portable tandir oven

Siberia and the Caucasus are the meeting point and crossroads (The Silk Roads)of Slavic, Mongolian and Turkic peoples and cultures so it is not surprising to see saurma, bureks,kuftas,pilov,tavuks many other Korean/Mongolian dishes ect in streets in Saint Petesburg, Kiev or Moscow.


Edited by piazzola (log)

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To chime in on Filipino empanadas, there are indeed different varieties of sweet and savoury. But the sweet ones are usually smaller and called empanaditas with fillings of jam and/or custard.

There are two very well-known native adaptations, the Ilocano empanada and the Kapampangan Christmas 'panara. Both are made from a dough of ground rice, have vegetable fillings such as bean sprouts (Ilocos) and grated green papaya (Pampanga), bits of longanisa and raw eggs, then deep-fried or baked.


Edited by PPPans (log)

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