As a child, my parents had a nickname for me; “Miss Dumpling.” I recall we would order Chinese food every week, and I insisted on ordering dumplings. Having to share these with the rest of my family was a disappointment, but I managed! My passion for this little pocket of joy all derives from my love affair with pasta and bread, which continues today. Dumplings are a stuffed noodle-like dough. When I think of dumplings, my mind is directed to the Chinese takeout of my youth. However, when you think about it, so many cultures have their version of a dumpling. We have Potstickers and Wontons from China; Gyoza and Shumai from Japan, Polish Perogies, Italian Ravioli, Turkish Manti, Salvadorian Pupusas; Argentine Empanadas. The list goes on and on. Each culture uses a similar method to create a delightful package of food that can be eaten out of your hand. Empanadas have a flakey pastry-like dough filled with meat or vegetables, often served with a fresh herb sauce called Chimichurri. Originating in Spain, their popularity is present throughout Central and South America; variations are endless. These are great served as an appetizer or entree.
For the Dough
2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1½ tsp salt
⅓ cup canola or avocado oil
⅓ cup cold water
1 TBSP distilled vinegar
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 TBSP water
For the Dough
Combine the flour and salt on a clean work surface. Add the oil and integrate it with your fingers. You will have a texture similar to cookie crumbs. Make a well with the flour mixture and add the egg, water, and vinegar to the center. Using a fork or your fingers, carefully stir the flour into the egg mixture. When the flour begins to absorb the liquid, use the palm of your hand to knead the dough into a ball. Add more water or flour to the mixture if necessary. When the dough has come together in a cohesive ball, shape into a flat square, wrap in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for a minimum of one hour. This will help relax the gluten in the flour so the dough is easier to roll out.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Dust a clean work surface with flour. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll dough out into a thin disc. Use a circle cutter or the mouth of a drinking glass to cut circles out of the dough. Gather the excess dough and re-roll.
Take a spoon full of your desired filling and place it in the center of the circle. Fold the dough in half, squeeze and crimp the edges shut. Repeat with remaining dough and place empanadas on a parchment-lined sheet tray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and water. Use a pastry brush to paint each empanada. Place the sheet tray on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the dough has a rich brown color. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Serve with Chimichurri.
For the beef filling
1 lb ground beef
½ onion, small dice
½ red bell pepper, small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
½ tsp dried oregano
2 cups chicken or beef stock
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup green olives, roughly chopped
For the beef filling
Heat a large pan on high heat. When the pan is hot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the ground beef, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, cook for 5 minutes. Pour off excess oil, turn the heat to medium, and stir in the onions and bell pepper. Use the back of a wooden spoon or spatula to break up large lumps of beef. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender and translucent, about 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes. Stir in the tomato paste followed by the cumin, paprika, and oregano. Cook for 2 minutes, allowing the tomato paste to caramelize a bit then add the stock. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up crusty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan then stir in the raisins and the olives. Bring the mixture up to a boil then turn heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid has cooked off, about 10- 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool.
1 cup chopped parsley
2-3 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
1 Fresno chili or jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Place ingredients in a bowl. Taste for seasoning.
Chef Liza Greifinger
Your Guide to Our Culinary Trip Around the World
Growing up in New York, surrounded by the flavors of the world, Liza developed a love for food and cooking. After a fulfilling career in outdoor education, she decided to explore her passion for food. Liza studied at The French Culinary Institute and then trained with some of the top chefs in New York City before being drawn to the mountains of Colorado. She joined the team at Food Lab, in Boulder, in the spring of 2016. There she teaches cooking skills and technique to all ages as well as curriculum development for the educational programs.