Argentinian Beef Empanadas Tucumanas (Hand-Cut Beef, Egg, and Green Onion Empanadas)
These fabulous traditional Argentinian Beef Empanadas Tucumanas feature a crispy dough encasing tender, flavorful filling. The hand-held turnovers are baked, yielding a less messy and lighter alternative to fried variations. The additions of hard-boiled eggs and scallions take this beef filling up a notch.
1 ½cupsbeef broth (or cooking liquid from the flank)
1tablespoonred wine vinegar
3hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped
¾cupthinly sliced green onions
5 ¾cups(756 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½teaspoonskosher salt
½cupmelted shortening or lard
1 ¾cupshot water (140°F)
Egg wash, made with 1 beaten egg and 2 teaspoons water(optional)
Place the flank steak in a large pot. Add the onion, carrot, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, parsley stems (if using), salt, and pepper. Pour in enough water to cover the steak by about 1 ½ inches. Bring the pot to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours, or until the beef is easily shredded with a fork.
Remove the steak from the pot, reserving 1 ½ cups of the cooking liquid. Set the broth aside. When the beef is cool enough to handle, remove any fat or sinew and slice it crosswise into thirds. Chop it into a fine dice, then chill, covered until ready to use. If refrigerated, the steak will last, covered for up to 2 days. To freeze it, cover shredded or chopped beef with the cooking liquid just until submerged. Freeze it in containers for up to 3 months.
Make the filling: Heat the oil in a large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat. Add the white onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, salt, cumin, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, stirring well to combine.
Add the beef and broth, stirring to combine. Bring them to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and continue cooking, uncovered, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes (the beef mixture should still be moist). Remove the filling from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Cover and chill the filling completely, at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight.
Make the bread dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Add the melted shortening and 1 ¼ cups of the water. Stir well with a spatula, until the dough starts coming together. Switch to your hands and add the remaining ½ cup water, kneading until the dough comes together (it will be soft and sticky).
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 to 2 minutes (adding more flour as needed), until the dough holds together in a ball and no longer sticks to your fingers. Return the dough to the bowl; cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 22 equal pieces (about 2 ounces/55 grams each). Roll each piece into a ball, folding the bottom of the dough onto itself so that the ends are at the bottom and the tops are smooth (the way you’d shape rolls). Place them on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover them with a clean towel. Let them rest for 10 minutes.
Line a tortilla press with a zip-top freezer or sandwich bag that has been cut open on three sides so that it opens like a book. Place a ball of dough in the middle of the tortilla press, fold over the plastic to cover it, lightly press it by hand into a flat disc, then use the press to flatten it into a 5-inch round, ⅛-inch thick (or roll it out with a rolling pin). Stack the discs with parchment paper in between to avoid sticking.
Assemble the empanadas: Stir the cooked eggs and green onions into the filling. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of the filling in the center of each empanada disc. Fold the the dough over the filling to form a half-moon, and press the edges together well. Make ½-inch edges by pressing the rims between your fingers to create a rope along the edges. The empanadas can sit uncovered at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking or can be refrigerated for up to 1 hour before baking.
Bake the empanadas and serve: Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the empanadas on the prepared pans and brush them with the egg wash, if using. Bake them for 28 to 30 minutes, until their bottoms are golden (rotate the pans in the oven halfway through baking, back to front and top to bottom, to ensure that all of the empanadas bake evenly). Transfer the empanadas to a cooling rack; let them cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
To freeze these empanadas, cool them to room temperature; set them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them until solid. When solid, transfer them to zip-top bags or freezer boxes and freeze them for up to 4 months. Reheat them in a 350°F oven until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes.
I use a cast-iron tortilla press to quickly and easily flatten my dough into circles. It is VERY IMPORTANT to line it with plastic before you use it, otherwise the dough will stick and create a mess.
It's ok if your pot isn't as wide as your flank steak, because the beef will shrink significantly as it starts to cook.
This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.