The Chilean empanada

There is no doubt that all Chileans like them and if a visitor does not try one then he or she is missing out on the unique taste of tradition.


In homes, popular cooking stalls and country houses, the Chilean empanada invites itself to be shared; the majority of times accompanied by a glass of red wine. They can be prepared and eaten at any time of year, though the peak moment is during the Fiestas Patrias holidays in September, when they are served and enjoyed in the fondas or traditional food and drink establishments set up especially to celebrate the country’s independence. In the countryside they are prepared in mud or wood-fired ovens; in cities they are cooked in the ovens of a normal modern kitchen.

The most common Chilean empanada is prepared with dough made of wheat flour and filled mainly with ground beef and onion, a mix that is called pino, in addition to hard-boiled egg, olives, and raisins. The contents are wrapped in the dough, forming a semicircle, and baked in the oven. During Easter Week religious tradition advises not to eat beef, so empanadas are filled with seafood or cheese and can also be fried in oil.

According to the Chilean cooking tradition, a dozen empanadas are prepared according to the following instructions.

Ingredients for the dough
– 1 kilo flour
– 1 level tablespoon of baking powder
– 1 level teaspoon of salt.
– 200 grams of lard.
– 1 cup of milk.

For the filling
– Half a kilo of beef chopped very fine by hand or ground.
– 2 large finely chopped onions.
– 20 raisins
– 12 large black olives
– 3 hard-boiled eggs cut in quarters.

1.- The meat is sautéed en a pan with around four table spoons of oil. A little bit of paprika and mixed herbs are added. The onion is cooked in a separate pot for at least 15 minutes to soften them and make them easier to digest. When the onion is cooked the meat is added and left on a low flame. The raisins are added and are optional, since some people do not like things that are sweet. Once everything has been mixed and cooked it is allowed to cool. The pino is ready.

2.- To prepare the dough the flour is placed on a flat wood surface in a circle, like the crater of a volcano. Brine is prepared in a small pot with a glass of water and salt. The lard is melted in a pan. When the brine has boiled and the lard is melted they are added to the center of the flour circle and mixed well. The milk is added and it is then kneaded softly by hand before being flattened out with a rolling pin. If it feels dry it can be softened with a little bit more milk. The dough must be allowed to sit for a couple of minutes before proceeding to cut it in portions. 6 balls of dough should be made out of each of its halves. The rolling pin is used to flatten each one into a disc shape until they are the size of a mid-sized dessert plate.

3.- Finally, each circle or disc is of dough is filled with two spoonfuls of pino, which is put into the center of the dough. At that moment the olives, two raisins, and a piece of egg are added. Then the dough is closed and the edges of the circle are joined, sealed by folding the edge in such a way as to leave two points that are brushed with water so they do not open. The next step is to put them in the oven. Some people brush them with beaten egg first, a detail that allows one to see when they are finished because of the golden color that they take on in the oven. A little bit of butter or oil on the baking sheet will keep the dough from sticking. The oven is heated, the empanadas are put inside and in a half hour they are golden brown and tasty.