One of the easiest recipes that you will find to make delicious empanadas with lots of Colombian flavor.
To close this Christmas season I have decided to post my recipe for Colombian empanadas. This is another great treat that is very popular in Colombia, just like buñuelos and natilla. And even though Colombians tend to enjoy empanadas more during the month of December, especially us Colombians who live abroad, we also enjoy them throughout the year.
The most popular empanadas that you will find in Colombia are the “church empanadas”, which unlike regular empanadas, these are only made with potatoes or very little meat. Each parish has a group of volunteers who prepare, cook and sell empanadas outside each church to raise funds. My grandmother proudly volunteered at one of these church groups and we would always see her selling her empanadas with a big smile to donate her two cents.
- Potatoes: I always use russet or baking potatoes because they are a lot easier to mash.
- Guiso (Seasoned sauce): It’s really easy to make and you only need onions, garlic, red bell pepper and tomatoes. The red bell pepper can be optional but I love the flavor it gives this guiso.
- Meat: I always use ground beef because it makes everything so much easier. However, you can also use carne en polvo, which cooked ground or shredded beef, cooked chicken or pork. Another option would be to skip the meat and only make them with potatoes.
- Precooked cornmeal: It is not only good for making arepas, but it is also great for making empanadas. You can use any brand for this recipe.
- Oil: The best oil for this recipe is a neutral oil with a high smoke point.
And just like each family has their own recipe for making buñuelos and natilla, the same thing happens with empanadas. Some make them with yellow corn meal, others with white corn meal, some make them with beef, others with chicken, with guiso, without guiso, with potatoes, without potatoes. But, they’re all equally delicious. The trick is to season the whole empanada, from the dough all the way to the guiso that we use for the filling. That way each bite is filled with that phenomenal Colombian flavor. What I do recommend is that you always use the same precooked corn meal that is used for making arepas.
- Cook the potatoes in water and mash them with a fork or potato masher.
- Cook the ingredients for the guiso in a little bit of oil and then add the beef until it is well cooked. If you are using cooked beef o chicken, all you have to do is mix it well with the guiso.
- Now you can add the mashed potatoes and season well with salt and pepper.
- To make the dough, mix the precooked cornmeal really well with hot water (this helps dissolve the corn meal better). If you want to give it more flavor, you can add butter, oil and food coloring.
- To make the empanadas you will need to divide the dough in small balls. Flatten each ball with a tortilla press or the bottom of a pot to form small circles. Fill each circle with about a tablespoon of the filling, fold it in half and cut the border with a glass or small bowl.
- Deep fry the empanadas in hot oil until they’re golden brown.
- 2 large russet or baking potatoes
- Water (Enough to cook the potatoes)
- 1 tsp salt
- Oil for frying (Vegetable, canola, corn, sunflower)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup (90g) red bell pepper, finely chopped
- ½ cup (100g) Roma tomatoes, finelly chopped (You can remove the skin and seeds if you want)
- 1 tsp onion powder (You can also use ½ cup of green onion, finely chopped)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup (25g) cilantro, finely chopped (Optional)
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 1 lb ground beef (You can also use cooked shredded beef, chicken or pork)
- 3 cups (720 ml) hot water
- 1 chicken bouillon (Optional)
- ½ tbsp food coloring or all purpose seasoning with color (Any brand)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter, softened (You can also use oil)
- 3 cups (450 g) precooked corn meal (To make arepas, any brand)
- Peel and dice the potatoes. Cook them in enough water and with the salt over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until tender.
- When ready, drain them and mash them with a fork or potato masher. Set aside.
- Guiso: Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, red bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, salt, cilantro (if using) and cumin. Cook the guiso for about 5 minutes or until it thickens.
- Filling: Add the beef to the guiso and cook until browned.
- Now add the mashed potatoes and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Masa: Place the hot water in a large bowl, add the chicken bouillon, food coloring, salt and butter. Stir well.
- Add the precooked corn meal and stir. Once the corn meal has dissolved, start kneading the dough until it is smooth. If the dough is too soft, you can let it rest for about 20 minutes.
- Form the empanadas: Form a small ball with the dough, flatten it with a tortilla press of the bottom of a small pot to make a circle. Make sure to cover the ball of dough with plastic to keep it from sticking to the press or pot.
- Add about 1 tbsp of the filling into the circle. Fold it in half to create a half moon. Cut the edges with a glass or small bowl to form the empanada.
- Deep fry the empanadas in hot oil that has been preheated to 350ºF (180ºC) until they are golden brown. About 7-10 minutes.
- Drain the empanadas on paper towels before serving.