Empanadas are one of my favorite finger foods. Savory meat stuffed pastries, they are the perfect party food. And paired with a garlicky cilantro sauce called chimichurri, it’s a match made in heaven.
Admittedly, empanadas are not the quickest appetizer to whip up, but if you make the components in stages and freeze them ahead of time, you will have something amazing to serve guests who show up out of the blue.
The meat filling is the biggest time bandit of this dish. Not at all complicated to make, the filling which is called carnitas is slow cooked for several hours. The end result is a flavorful fall apart pork that’s perfect as a filling for empanadas or simply stuffed in a tortilla and topped with all the fixin’s!
I say do both! Make a really large pork shoulder and use the carnitas meat one night served in tortillas and the next day as a stuffing for your empanadas. You really can’t go wrong with that strategy. Win-win.
- 1 4-5 pound pork shoulder
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 Tbsp fresh marjoram
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp ground corriander
- 2½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 egg
- ⅓ cup ice water
- 2 tsp vinegar
- ½ cup olive oil
- ¼ fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp dried red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- Cut pork into 2" cubes. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
- Brown meat in oil. Once browned on all sides, add onions and cook for several minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Add enough water to cover the meat by two thirds.
- Place in oven. Allow to cook uncovered for 2½ to 3 hours. Turn meat pieces several times while cooking. The meat is done when it falls apart.
- In a food processor, combine flour, salt and butter. Pulse until mixture resembles peas. In a small cup, combine egg, water and vinegar. Whisk together. Pour mixture into processor and pulse until mixture comes together into a ball. This could take a minute or two.
- Take dough ball out of processor and knead for a few minutes. Roll dough fairly thin and cut with a round cutter.
- Place a Tbsp of the carnitas mixture in the center of the dough circle. Using a little water, take your pinkie finger and run a little water around the edge. Fold dough in half over filling, creating a half moon. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal.
- Bake in a 400º oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes.
- Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and allow to sit for at least an hour for the flavors to meld. Serve with empanadas or any grilled meats.