Gaucho Empanadas are everywhere, ranging from elegant cocktail parties in Buenos Aires to rough and ready outdoors barbecues in an Estancia with the company of the gauchos.
Many beef restaurants in Buenos Aires and around the country serve a complementary empanada to keep you happy while you face difficult task of choosing from the menu.
Pizza parlours and take-away food shops deliver a tour of piping hot empanadas at the call of a phone. Gaucho wives pride themselves on their special style of empanadas, and the filling is still a carefully kept secret.
The basics for making an empanada appear to be simple, and they are, yet a number of important and subtle touches are necessary.
The pastry is part of the secret and the heat of the oven of frying fat also has its influence.
Gaucho empanadas experts insist that the most important factor of all is how the filling is prepared, at least when this is based on beef, which comprises something like 80% of empanadas eaten in Argentina.
A true, to gaucho empanadas has its beef finely chopped by hand, not passed through the mincer. This is an important point to bear in mind because the juciness of the meat – and the final juiciness of the filling – depends almost wholly on this factor.
A mincer squeezes much of the juice out of the meat, and if used at high speed and for more than a minute or two, heats up the blades and cooks the beef slightly.
Using a sharp knife by hand produces a natural mince wich retains all the basic goodness of the meat.
Argentine gaucho empanadas are either fried or baked, and the pastry used is prepared accondingly. But most pastry is multipurpose: any pastry made with lard, butter or margarine is apt for frying and baking.
( you can check the customers reviews of the empanadas in this page )
In all cases the filling is cooked before, so it is essential that the process should be rapid, just time enough to brown the pastry and heat the contents. Very hot fat for frying and a very hot oven for baking is this essential.
Extracted from “El gaucho gourmet” by Derek Foster: Buy the book Gaucho Gourmet
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