Paleo Argentine Empanadas de Carne

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So. Do you remember when I flew over to Argentina and learned to make milanesas, chimichurri and empanadas? They were good times. 

Gooood times.

I buy my Argentine empanada dough online, but I was wondering about how to come up with a paleo version so I didn't have to either refuse them completely (my gosh they're so good) or eat just one and then feel bad about it all day. Because no one should have to feel bad about eating Argentine empanadas. No one. 

The problem is, Argentine empanada pastry is different to every other type of pastry I've tried. It's very white and soft - and when cooked it's extremely delicate with a bit of flaky crunch. The traditional empanadas de carne are filled with a mixture of minced beef, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes and red peppers. The pastry isn't soggy and stands up to the filling really well. 

I decided to make these out of cassava flour. Now, obviously they're not exactly the same as the traditional empanada dough. It's a little crisper, but that's not a bad thing at all. I actually really like the firmer texture of the pastry with the empanada filling. 

Give them a try. You can have a look at my authentic, fully Argentinian empanadas de carne here. 

Paleo Argentine Empanadas de Carne
Makes 6-8
For the pastry: 
200g cassava flour (I used Tiana)
quarter teaspoon salt
75g lard, cold, cut into cubes
about 50ml cold water (more or less, see notes below)
1 egg yolk, for brushing 

For the filling:
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch sea salt flakes
1 small white onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
200g good quality, lean, beef steak mince
quarter tsp smoked paprika (or pimentón dulce) 
1 pointed sweet red pepper, chopped 
1 heaped teaspoon tomato paste 
100ml beef stock
6 pitted green olives, halved 
2 small, hard-boiled eggs - peeled and chopped into small chunks
1 heaped tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Black pepper, to season

First, heat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6/400ºF and get on with your empanada filling. 

Take out a large frying pan and trickle in the olive oil. Fry the onion and the pinch of salt until softened but not coloured, and add the garlic. Stir-fry for another minute or so and then add the steak mince. Cook, stirring, until browned and just cooked through. 

Next, sprinkle in the paprika and add the red pepper chunks. Stir, cooking for 1 minute and then add the tomato paste, stock, olives, hard-boiled chopped eggs and the parsley. Taste and season with pepper and a little more salt if you think it needs it. Once the meat is fully cooked through and the vegetables are tender, leave to cool. 

While the meat is cooling, make the pastry. 

Measure out 200g cassava flour and the salt into a bowl and mix together. Take the lard and rub it into the flour with your fingertips, until you end up with a floury mixture that looks a bit like fine breadcrumbs. Pour in the cold water - a little at a time, you might not need the full 50ml) and work with your fingertips until the mixture forms a smoothish, firm dough. Put to one side to rest for a couple of minutes, until the beef mixture is cool enough to handle. 

Dust a work surface or board with cassava flour and roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Cut out circles - I use a small dish to make a template and then run a sharp knife around it. 

Pick up a circle of the pastry and moisten the edge of one side of it with a fingertip dipped in cold water. Put a tablespoon or two of the filling onto the pastry and fold in half to seal. If the pastry splits, don't worry - just take a small piece of the dough and press it back together. 

Crimp the edges of the pastry half-circle by using a fork, and place on a tray lined with greaseproof paper. Brush with beaten egg, if you like, for a glazed finish. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is firm and golden and the filling is hot. 

Remove from the oven and eat hot - the filling may be very hot so allow to cool slightly before giving them to young children. 

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