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There are many variations of empanadas across Latin America; in Brazil they're called pastéis (pastel in the singular), and in Puerto Rico they're called pasteles. The dough is made with lard or suet, filled and baked or deep-fried. The version here is made with minced beef, green olives and parsley, and served with a spicy herb sauce that's common in Brazil. The Brazilian and Cuban versions are sealed with a forked edge instead of the pleated rope edge (called repulgue) you find particularly with Argentinian-style empanadas.

You'll need

2 tbsp melted lard or suet 1 onion, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 2 tsp coarsely ground cumin seeds 1 tsp ground chilli Pinch of ground cinnamon Pinch of dried oregano 400 gm coarsely minced beef 8 pitted large green olives, diced ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley Vegetable oil, for deep-frying   Pastel dough 300 gm (2 cups) plain flour 2 tsp caster sugar 50 gm (1/4 cup) melted lard 150 ml dry white wine   Salsa verde ½ tsp cumin seeds 1 cup (firmly packed) chopped flat-leaf parsley 1 cup (firmly packed) chopped coriander Juice of 2 limes 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil 2 small green chillies (or to taste), seeds removed, finely chopped


  • 01
  • For pastel dough, mix flour, sugar and 1 tsp salt in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to just combine, then add lard and mix to combine. Add wine and knead until a smooth dough forms. Turn out onto a bench and knead lightly until smooth, then wrap in plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, heat half the lard or suet in a frying pan over medium-high heat, add onion and fry, stirring occasionally, until just starting to caramelise (5-7 minutes). Add garlic, spices and oregano and stir until fragrant (1½-2½ minutes), then set mixture aside. Add remaining lard to pan over high heat, add beef and fry, breaking it up with a spoon, until starting to colour (8-10 minutes). Add olives and parsley and return onion mixture to pan, stir to combine and season to taste. Cool mixture, then refrigerate to chill.
  • 03
  • For salsa verde, dry-roast cumin seeds until fragrant (30-40 seconds; see cook’s notes p185). Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush, then combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients. Season to taste and set aside.
  • 04
  • Roll walnut-sized pieces of dough to 10cm-diameter rounds. Top with a heaped teaspoonful of beef filling, fold dough over to form a half-moon and press edges firmly to seal and flatten, then, using a fork dipped in flour, crimp edges firmly. Place on a tray lined with baking paper and set aside, or refrigerate covered with plastic wrap until ready to cook. pastéis can be made 2-3 hours ahead of cooking.
  • 05
  • Heat oil to 180C. Deep-fry pastéis in batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown (about 5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on paper towels, season with salt and serve with salsa verde.

At A Glance

  • Serves 24 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 24 people

Drink Suggestion

Hoppy India pale ale.

Featured in

Jul 2016

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