Friday, February 28, 2014

A Taste of Paraguay {Part 1}: Beef Empanadas

Of all of the things I miss about Paraguay, this is near the top of the list: Empanadas! They're available all over the place in Paraguay. You can buy them from Don Vito's in the mall food court, or take a break from running errands to enjoy one at the Lido Bar downtown or from a street corner food cart. Pick up a few at a rest stop on a road trip to the Chaco, or bring some home from the grocery store.

While empanadas are a littler harder to come by here in Wisconsin, thankfully they are a taste of Paraguay that can be made from home. 
Elsie's first bite of "undonado" (empanda)
Here's what you'll need to make your own Paraguayan Beef Empanadas.

Beef Empanadas

- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 medium Onion, diced
- 2 cloves Garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 1 egg (hard boiled)
- Cumin
- Salt & Pepper
- 12 Empanada Shells (1 pkg "Tapas para Empanadas" - available at most Mexican grocery stores; or homemade shells see recipe at the end of this post)

Saute the ground beef with the chopped onions until the beef is cooked through and the onions are translucent. During the last minute or two, add the garlic. (After the meat is cooked, you may want to drain any extra grease. I find it easiest to accomplish this by positioning the skillet on a wooden spoon and letting it sit for a couple of minutes.)

Chop a hard boiled egg and add it to the beef mixture.
Add salt and pepper to taste, along with a generous amount of cumin. Gosh, I love that spice.
Just like that, the filling is ready is ready to go!

Now for the shells... Premade empanada shells are able at our local grocery store (Woodman's!) in the Latin food section, and can also be found at most Mexican grocery stores. They come frozen, but thaw quickly and are then ready to use. Using the premade shells simplifies the whole meal are flaky and delicious. However, because it irks me when I look at a recipe for something and one of the "ingredients" is a premade something-or-other (for example: Cookie Dough Bars with one of the listed ingredients being a tub of cookie dough. Uh, hello?! I thought this was a recipe?!), I will also include the recipe for Homemade Empanada Shells at the end of this post.
My empanada shells and filling, ready to go!
To fill the shells, place a nice ol' scoop of filling in the center of the shell. Use your fingers to press the edges of the dough together, creating a tight seal. (If it's having any trouble sticking together, you can dip your finger in water and rub it around the inside edge of the dough.)
Use a fork to press around the edge of the empanada.
Repeat until all of your shells are filled (or your run out of meat!) This time I actually had a little filling left over, and will put it over lunch and enjoy it for lunch! The filling can also be frozen and saved for a later date.)
And now the fun really begins. Fry those babies! (Empanadas can also be baked, but... why would you do that?!) Heat your oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When it's nice and hot, carefully lower the empanadas into the oil. Allow them to cook on the first side until golden brown, and then flip over.
When each empanada is fried to golden perfection, remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain.
Enjoy with ketchup or hot sauce. We ate them for supper last night with sides of rice, green beans, and Sopa Paraguaya (cheesy cornbread... I will post the recipe for it soon!)
Beef Empanadas & Sopa Paraguaya

Homemade Empanada Shells

5 cups Flour
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Oil
1-1/8 cup Ice Water
1 tsp Salt
Mix together to make biscuit-like dough. Divide into egg-sized balls and roll until 1/4" thick. Fill with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Seal. Fry.



  1. You make yours nice and full. . . and I know they taste as delicious as they look! I'm hungry!

    1. Maybe Dad could bring some home for you tonight! :) Enjoy the real deal while you can!!

  2. What do you do with the oil after you use it? I never fry stuff like that. ??

    1. Good question, Mary. I seldom fry either... empanadas are one of my exceptions. As far as the oil goes, for one thing I sort of "shallow fry" instead of deep fry, so I don't use as much oil. It was about 1/2" deep this time. Then I let the oil cool and keep it in a jar or can and will usually reuse it at least once more in the future.

  3. Can't wait to try these! Dave loves Empanadas. Thank you for sharing :-)

    1. You're welcome! I wonder if they'll taste like he remembers them.

  4. Here I am missing Paraguayan empanadas (because Peruvian ones just aren't the same) and I stumble on your blog! I'm so excited to make these tonight!
    I might add a little anis seed, because I remember that in a lot of them, but I had forgotten the cumin! Yum!


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