Tucuman Empanadas on Brick Lane



The Sunday markets around Spitalfields and brick lane…

are great for vintage clothing, handmade jewellery and gifty stuff, but also foods from around the world. The Sunday Up Market is fantastic, a carpark during the week, turns into a bustling market at the weekend as trendy east Londoners search for a bargain, it has also just opened up an extra bit around the food area so you can sit down, relax and enjoy your delicacies. It was just outside on Brick Lane that I spotted Mr Bernado Neville and his Argentinean empanadas stall, and how could I refuse a tasty Argentinean Snack at only £1.50??

A cross between a calzone and a pasty, this delicious snack has a spicy meaty yummy centre of beef and fragrant spices, and sometimes boiled egg which was in this Tucumán version. Other varieties can also use minced meat, but in Tucuman it is more traditional to use small diced meat. Apparently these little pies are often served at large events such as football or festivals, or brick lane markets.

So of course I wanted to figure out how they were made, after quizzing Mr Neville, I set out to experiment my recipe, here’s the finale:


 Makes 6

For the Dough

225g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

60g lard or vegetable shortening

chilled water, enough to form dough

For the empanada filling

2 tbsp olive oil

200g rump steak, shopped into about 5mm cubes

1 onion, finely chopped 

1 small red pepper, finely chopped

1 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbsp red wine

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp chilli powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 egg, hard-boiled and diced

To make the dough, melt the lard on a low heat, place the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle, pour the melted lard into this well and gradually incorporate the flour and the cold water until you have a formed a dough.

Leave this to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. Whilst you are waiting for the old resting process, I suggest you crack on with making your empanada filling by frying the onion and garlic and red pepper in the olive oil, when soft and translucent turn up the heat and add the steak. Once all the steak is cooked add the red wine, spices and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat, stir in the hard-boiled egg and chill in the fridge until needed.

Take the dough out of the fridge and on a well floured surface roll out a thin sheet. Use something round to a diameter of about 5 inches to cut out even circles, have a look around in your kitchen, maybe a saucer/bowl? When you have your circles cut out place about a tablespoon of the cooled empanada mixture in the middle, fold in half and then fold the edges over so that your empanada resembles a pasty.


When you’ve shaped all your empanada, grill on a high heat until golden, turning over to allow to cook on the other side (about 7 minutes on each side).

I had this with roast carrot and cumin salad, and tomato salsa.


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