Let’s tackle with the name: Empanada
Empanada is a Spanish term that doesn’t have a translation to English language, this is why you can find different spelled and misspelled names. Empanaditas or empanadillas are small empanadas usually, eaten as snack, and the ending “…itas” or “..illas” means small-mini, very common terms in Spanish language (Español)
What is an Empanada?
Empanadas came out of the Spanish verb “empanar”, in other words to coat or wrap in bread. They are done with pastry dough (often also with phyllo dough) and the filling can be your total creativity inside the kitchen.
The most popular are with beef, chicken, seafood, cheese, vegetables, spicy, pumpkin, apple and all have different sauces inside as well as shapes. Folding dough around your stuffing and sealing it, presto, you get an empanada!
The empanada-history is apparently from Spain, and a different version of Portugal, but it seems that, obviously, folded dough and yummy stuffing appeared in numerous parts of the world. We have the famous Indian samosas or the Italian calzone and many more, to name only a few.
Where the Spanish people were, they appeared empanadas, spreading in all Latin America, Caribbean countries and the Philippines.
More common shapes are circular and half-moon or semi-circular. When you’ve dozens and assorted empanada fillings on your table, it is important to have very clear the shapes and/or individual marks on each, to distinguish the diverse fillings. It isn’t the first time, that you begin eating an empanada thinking on a specific taste and the result is completely different after the first bite.
Baked or Fried Empanadas?
Tough question, fried are crispier than baked ones, and often baked empanadas can take longer to be done, but they are healthier. I think that every now and then, a fried empanada is good for your palate but in my case, as a general rule, is a baked one.
Savory or Sweet Empanadas Fillings?
Savory wins so far in proportions but, as you guess, the sweet ones are for my liking too. Frequently sweet empanadas (empanadas dulces) in my country Uruguay are with dulce de leche or cajeta, with chocolate, ricotta with raisins and streusel style (apple empanadas); usually you can sprinkle powder sugar on top to differentiate them of the savory ones. Empanadas can match perfectly with red wines and sweet white wines.
I’ve made lot of batches of empanadas recently. When you begin, you can make different fillings and even store them in the freezer for future dinners. Afterwards, you need only to defrost and later bake or fry them, according to your taste.
In my pantry now, I’ve beef empanadas (empanadas de carne) here called “empanadas Criollas”, empanadas Argentinas-style like Mendocinas, Salteñas (also there are Salteñas from Bolivia), and the popular empanadas Chilenas too. As I explained in my article about Uruguay, Anthony Bourdain and beef, here the beef is the King and Queen. Anyway, pss vegetarians (there are here wonderful veggie empanadas too, totally meatless)
As it’s a typical Spanish custom imported into Latin America, I’m putting the names in Spanish language too (Español)
Alternately to the meat empanadas, are immensely popular the chicken empanadas (empanadas de pollo), seafood empanadas like tuna empanadas (empanadas de atun), and empanada Gallega (originally a big cake).
The cheese empanadas (empanadas de queso) are gorgeous to try with your favorite cheese selection.
There are endless variants, sauces and mix of ingredients for them that you can imagine.
Of course, there are industrial empanadas, done with a machine, but nothing compares to homemade ones, warm just took out of the oven.
Are there Uruguayan Empanadas?
As most of the people came from Spain (principally from Galicia) and Italy, they took empanadas with their culinary traditions. Usually, the empanada dough is with wheat flour and in lesser cases, of corn flour dough.
The empanadas of Uruguay are similar to the Argentine empanadas and you can find them everywhere.
Are there gourmet empanadas? Certainly, there are “empanadas gourmet” with highly sophisticated fillings that deserve this title and they can be so addictive, indeed.
The empanadas together with the alfajores with dulce de leche, milanesas a la napolitana, faina and Uruguayan chivitos are some of the snacks-dishes very popular in Uruguay.
Want to know how to make empanadas from scratch? Also, would you like to know, how to make fantastic empanada fillings, in an easy way with delicious recipes?
I’m sharing below lot of empanada recipes (recetas de empanadas) for your delight.
Empanada Recipes (Recetas de Empanadas)
Baked and Fried Empanadas (Empanadas de Horno y Fritas)
Which is your favorite filling? Are you with the healthier baked or the fried ones? Tell me, your tasty experiences in comments.