Pairings

Argentinian Empanadas Salteñas paired with a Torrontés wine

pairings

If you’ve ever had Argentinian empanadas before, then you’ll understand that it’s impossible to eat just one! The flavourful medley of meat, vegetables and spices perfectly sealed inside a delicate pastry parcel is just too delicious to resist. My inspiration for this food and wine pairing happened while participating in the West London Wine School’s incredible online tasting of high altitude wines from Argentina’s Bodega Colomé. The aromas, flavours and complexities of the wines were all-consuming; in more ways than one. Not only was I wanting to savour every last drop, but I also was longing to be teleported to Salta, Argentina and not stuck in my living room staring at a computer!!!!! I was also longing for some authentic Argentinian cuisine to pair with these incredible wines.

During the tasting, Bodega Colomé winemaker Thibaut Delmotte suggested pairing the 2020 Estate Torrontés wine with empanadas. Initially, I thought that this sounded like an unconventional food and wine pairing. Beef based dishes tend to go with red wines; however, I was intrigued by his suggestion and decided to do some research of my own. So, I bought a bottle of the 2020 Estate Torrontés and thus, began my journey to determine if this wine actually pairs well with Argentinian empanadas.

The word “empanada” is a variation of the Spanish verb empanar which means “to bread.” When using it in the context of cooking, it means to coat or wrap something in bread. Now, that you know the origin of this word, I bet you didn’t know that some regions of Argentina actually stuff their empanadas with llama meat! Now, that’s a wine pairing for another time; maybe when I’m actually, physically in Argentina!

After perusing several Argentinian empanada recipes, I found empanadas Salteñas!! This recipe is specific to the Salta region and includes beef (minced or in pieces), red peppers, potatoes, green olives, spring onions, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and hard boiled eggs. There are other countless other variations to this regional empanada, but these ingredients appear to be consistent. After considering the ingredients and how they would pair with the Torrontés wine, this pairing began to make sense. The uplifting acidity and zesty citrus notes from the Torrontés cuts through the beef’s richness, while the fresh jasmine floral notes perfectly complement and balance the variety of spices, vegetal notes and hard boiled egg!! It really is the James Bond of food and wine pairings…audacious yet remarkably flawless!! 

Well, if you’re ready to get going and make some incredible empanadas Salteñas, then keep reading. This is definitely a labour of love, but you won’t be disappointed. I even managed to get the kids involved (The impossible is possible when it involves food in my house!!). I found this recipe by Silvia Tejerina whose passion and precision for making empanadas has earned her the reputation as an empanada specialist in Argentina. My empanadas Salteñas are similar but I decided to use lean steak mince. I also incorporated green olives, as several other recipes suggested using them. From what I read, everyone has their own version of empanadas. It’s a great recipe that you can customise to meet the needs of your family!

Days after making these precious parcels, you will still be longing for their savoury flavours and a glass of Torrontés wine!

¡Salud! 

Prepping the Ingredients

Begin this recipe by making the dough first, as it needs to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and being turned into the pastry parcels.

Making the Dough

Begin by sifting the plain flour onto a clean, flat surface. I use a very fine flour that we found in our local Turkish supermarket. Basically, the higher quality of the flour and finer the consistency, the better and lighter your pastry will be.

Once fully sifted, the flour should resemble a mound. With your hands, make a well in the centre and pour in 150ml of water and half the melted butter. Once you’ve done this, begin circulating the flour into the buttery water mixture by hand. Continue adding more water and butter slowly until you reach a consistency that isn’t too dry. You want the dough to cling together and eventually form a ball; however, you don’t want the dough to be too sticky. Kneed the dough until it forms a smooth ball with all the ingredients perfectly incorporated.

Once the dough forms a ball, wrap it with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This gives you time to prepare the remaining ingredients.

Boiling Eggs

  • You’re going to need hard boiled eggs as a final topping for these empanadas. Begin by carefully placing 4 eggs in the bottom of a saucepan. Cover the eggs in cold water, ensuring that there is at least 4 cm of water over the top of them.
  • Bring the saucepan to a gentle boil over high heat, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a slow, gentle simmer.
  • Cook the eggs for 12 minutes.
  • Once the eggs are cooked, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and run cold water over them in the sink. Leave them to sit in the cold water. The cold water stops the eggs from continuing to cook.
  • When the eggs have cooled, peel and slice them into small pieces.

Par-Boiling the Potatoes

  • Wash, peel and slice 400grams of potatoes (about 4 medium-size potatoes) into 1 cm cubes. I used Maris Piper potatoes for this recipe. You want ones that hold their shape when cooked.
  • Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with salted water, bring to a boil and cook for no more than 3 minutes. I add salted water because it helps prevent the potatoes from oxidising and turning brown. You want the potatoes ‘par-boiled’ which means that they are partially boiled, as they will have further opportunities to completely cook later. You don’t want them becoming mushy.
  • Once the potatoes have cooked, drain them in a colander and set aside. You will add them later.

Slicing and Dicing the Vegetables

  • Finely slice and dice two white onions and two red bell peppers. Make sure the onion is peeled and the peppers are deseeded. Once chopped, set them aside in the same bowl.
  • Slice the spring onions and green olives and set them aside in separate bowls.
  • Use a large stock pot and heat 75grams of unsalted butter over medium heat. Once melted, add the onion and bell peppers.
  • Sauté the onion and pepper over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Cooking the Steak Mince

  • Once the onions and red bell peppers have cooked, you’re ready to add the steak mince. I prefer to use lean steak mince, as the vegetables are already being cooked in butter. Also, if the filling gets too greasy, it will soak through the pastry dough, leaving it soggy.
  • Crumble the steak mince over the onions and bell peppers and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir the ingredients together so everything cooks evenly.
  • While the steak mince is cooking, add the ground cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Feel free to adjust the spices according to your tolerance for spiciness.
  • At this point, turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the burner.
  • Next, gently combine the par-boiled potatoes and green olives to the cooked ingredients. Now, your filling is ready to be made into empanadas!!!

Rolling the Dough

  • Once your filling is ready, grab your dough ball that’s in the refrigerator and LET’s GET READY to ROLL!!! I have to be honest, pastry is not my area of expertise…actually, my husband is the baker in the family. However, I have to say, this pastry recipe is remarkable and works so well with the filling, as it’s extremely malleable.
  • Begin by flouring your work area and cutting the dough ball in half. Wrap one half back in cling film and return to the refrigerator. Meanwhile, kneed the remaining half into a ball, just a few times, to soften it after having been in the refrigerator.
  • Once you have your beautiful pastry ball, begin rolling it out with your rolling pin. You’ll want to roll it out until it’s about 1/8cm thick.
  • Then take your pastry cutter (9cm wide) and cut out as many circles as you possibly can squeeze in.

Filling the Empanadas

  • Begin by setting your oven to 250°C.
  • When all the dough circles are cut out, gently roll them a bit more but not too thin. You want them to fit in the palm of your hand, approximately 10-11cm wide. 
  • Once your circles are the right size, add your filling in the centre and then your desired toppings. I usually add about three tablespoons of filling. Make sure you don’t add too much filling, otherwise, the empanada won’t close.
  • In order to properly seal the empanada, leave enough room to pinch the sides together. There should be a seal of dough that is about 1 cm wide surrounding the filling. This is where you create the decorative seal.
A perfect little empanada!!
  • To create the decorative seal, start at the bottom right corner.  Gently squeeze the dough between your thumb and forefinger. Fold this piece of pinched dough up and inward, towards the filling and press.  Then squeeze the dough again and repeat the process.  A spiral-like decorative edge will form to properly seal the empanada.  Continue this pattern until you have reach the other corner.  
  • Place the finished empanadas on a lined baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes until lightly browned.
Ready and waiting to be cooked!
  • Once you’ve started baking the first batch, then head back to the refrigerator and grab your other half of dough. Repeat the process again.
  • By the end of this endeavour…you’ll have some incredibly delicious empanadas Salteñas.

Serving

  • Once the empanadas have emerged from the oven, let them cool down a for about 10 minutes before eating, otherwise, they’ll burn your mouth!
  • These can be served as tapas or as an entire meal. It’s completely up to you. I dare you to eat just one!!!

Wine Pairing

Cheers x


Argentinian Empanadas Salteñas paired with a Torrontés wine

These empanadas will teleport you to the highest heights of Salta, Argentina! Paired with a glass of Torrontés wine and you'll be in heaven!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time15 mins
Pastry Refrigeration Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Argentinian
Keyword: empanadas, empanadas Salteñas, Torrontés wine
Servings: 50 empanadas

Equipment

  • circular pastry cutter (9cm diameter)
  • Rolling Pin

Ingredients

Pastry Dough

  • 1 kg plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500 ml tepid water
  • 125 grams melted unsalted butter

Empanada Filling

  • 400 grams potatoes peeled and cut into 1cm wide cubes
  • 75 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 white onions sliced and diced
  • 2 red bell peppers deseeded, sliced and diced
  • 1 Kg lean steak mince
  • 75 grams sliced green olives
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ground pepper
  • 4 chopped hard boiled eggs
  • 200 grams sliced spring onions

Instructions

Making the Pastry Dough

  • Begin by sifting the plain flour onto a clean, flat surface. Once fully sifted, the flour should resemble a mound. 
  • With your hands, make a well in the centre and pour in 150ml of tepid water and half the melted butter.
  • Begin circulating the flour into the buttery, water mixture by hand. Continue adding more water and butter slowly until you reach a consistency that isn't too dry or too sticky. 
  • Kneed the dough until it forms a smooth ball with all the ingredients perfectly incorporated. 
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  

Boiling the Eggs

  • Begin by carefully placing 4 eggs in the bottom of a saucepan. Cover the eggs in cold water, ensuring that they are submerged in least 4 cm of water.
  • Bring the saucepan to a gentle boil over high heat, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a slow, gentle simmer. Cook the eggs for 12 minutes. 
  • When finished, immediately remove the saucepan with the eggs from the heat and run cold water over them in the sink. Leave them to sit in the cold water. 
  • Once the eggs have cooled, peel and slice them into small pieces. 

Par-Boiling the Potatoes

  • Wash, peel and slice 400grams of potatoes into 1 cm cubes.
  • Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with salted water, bring to a boil and cook for no more than 3 minutes.
  • Once the potatoes have cooked, drain them in a colander and set aside.

Slicing and Dicing the Vegetables

  • Finely slice and dice two white onions and two red bell peppers. 
  • Slice the spring onions and green olives and set them aside in separate bowls.
  • Use a large stock pot and heat 75 grams of unsalted butter over medium heat.
  • Once melted, add the onion and bell peppers. Sauté the onion and pepper over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes until the onion is translucent.

Cooking the Steak Mince

  • In the same pot, crumble the steak mince over the onions and bell peppers and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  • While the steak mince is cooking, add the ground cumin, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust the spices according to your tolerance for spiciness. 
  • Stir the ingredients together so everything cooks evenly. 
  • At this point, turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the burner.  
  • Next, gently add the par-boiled potatoes and green olives to the cooked ingredients.  Now, your filling is ready to be made into empanadas!!!  

Rolling the Dough

  • When your filling is ready, get your dough ball from the refrigerator.
  • Flour your work area and cut the dough ball in half. Wrap one half back in cling film and return to the refrigerator. Meanwhile, kneed the remaining half into a ball, just a few times, to soften it.
  • Once you have your beautiful dough ball, begin rolling it out with your rolling pin.  You'll want to roll it out until it's about 1/8cm thick.  
  • Then take your pastry cutter (9cm wide) and cut out as many circles as you possibly can squeeze in.  
  • When all the dough circles are cut out, gently roll them a bit more but not too thin. You want them to fit in the palm of your hand, approximately 10-11cm wide. 

Filling the Empanadas

  • Set your oven to 250°C. 
  • Once your circles are the right size, add your filling to the centre of the circle and then your desired toppings. Make sure you don't add too much filling on top of the dough circle, otherwise, the empanada won't close.
  • In order to properly seal the empanada, make sure you leave enough room to pinch the sides together.  
  • To create the decorative seal, start at the bottom right corner.  Gently squeeze the dough between your thumb and forefinger. Fold this piece of pinched dough up and inward, towards the filling and press.  Then squeeze the dough again and repeat the process.  A spiral-like decorative edge will form to properly seal the empanada.  Continue this pattern until you have reach the other corner.  
  • Place the finished empanadas on a lined baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes until lightly browned. 
  • Once you've started baking the first batch, then head back to the refrigerator and grab your other half of dough.  Repeat the process again.  
  • By the end of this endeavour, you'll have some incredibly delicious empanadas Salteñas.  

Serving

  • Once the empanadas have emerged from the oven, let them cool down a for about 10 minutes before eating, otherwise, they'll burn your mouth! 
  • These can be served as tapas or as an entire meal. It's completely up to you. I dare you to eat just one!!! 

Wine Pairing

  • Serve with a glass of Bodega Colomé's 2020 Estate Torrontés wine.