Argentina Travelogue: Empanadas

I knew going into this trip that I would be quite focused on empanadas. I have an obsessive love of bread/pastry pockets, dumplings, stuffed buns, etc., stemming perhaps from the turnovers my mom used to make with leftover pie crust and her raspberry jam.

I sampled quite a few empanadas over the course of the trip, everywhere from a grungy corner lunchroom in Buenos Aires (where my answer of “hot” to the question “cold or hot?” produced a microwaved-but-still-tasty pocket filled with beef and hardboiled egg) to our bedroom at a fancy estancia in Le Pampa (where a staff member knocked on the door with a large white enamel pot full of freshly fried empanadas). I had ground and chopped beef (chopped is better) with and without green olives and hardboiled egg (I like both). I sampled cheese with ham, without ham, with onions and onions without cheese, baked and fried. The very best were the handcut beef, fried, from El Mirasol in Puerto Madero. I didn’t dislike any of them, but these meat ones weren’t top of the list:

empanada

They’re from a small restaurant in Chacra de Corria, outside Mendoza (in wine country, 1000 km west of Buenos Aires). These were takeout, and Ben’s hamburger from the same place will get its own post later. The crescents are meat, the rounds are ham and cheese. A tip re. empanadas: Some are wet, some are dry. This is a known quantity. The cheese and ham type tend to be wetter, and sometimes squirt, so your first bite must be very carefully taken.

bites

Here are the famous empanadas from Familia Zuccardi, where we had a lunch that will also get written about. From the left, these are filled with onions, cheese, and meat. The center (cheese) one is notably drier-looking and flatter. You can also tell different fillings apart by the different folds.

zuccardi emp

At Le Bamba, the estancia in the grasslands where there is regular empanada delivery (note the deliciously fried crust):

bamba emp

And my last empanada, though not my favorite: straight onions in a baked shell, at a café near the capital building on our last day in Buenos Aires.

onion emp

I’d like to find a good recipe for the chopped meat type, like the ones at El Mirasol. I like the olive and egg, but I think I’ll leave out the egg for Ben’s sake. Fried was definitely my favorite, as well, but baked will have to do for home production.

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