Argentinian empanadas are considered to be some of the best in the world for their different cooking styles between the different regions of the country.
Empanadas are traditional stuffed pastries that are a Hispanic culinary delicacy. They originate from the northern Spanish region of Galicia, but have since spread and become a popular dish in other Hispanic countries, all of which have their own regional variations. Argentinian empanadas, in particular, are considered to be some of the best in the world. This is due to the fact there is so much variation in Argentinian Empanadas recipes and cooking styles between the different regions of the country.
Traditional Argentinean food is famous around the world for its simple robust flavors. This is to be expected from a country where the national dish is, quite simply, beef. Argentinian empanadas follow this trend and provide a filling and tasty food. Empanadas can be eaten at any time, as a snack or as a whole meal. In Argentina they are commonly served at celebrations as they can be eaten easily by hand without too much mess. Some types of empanadas are associated with religious festivals, for example fish filled empanadas that are popular around Lent and Easter. In stark contrast to the simplicity of most empanadas, some gourmet chefs in Argentina have been inspired by their universal appeal and serve their own personal interpretations of the popular dish in their restaurants.
There are two main types of Argentinian empanadas that differ in the cooking techniques that are used: the Tucuman or the Salta style. Tucuman empanadas are fried in a tray of fat that is placed in a clay oven whereas Salta empanadas are simply baked without the addition of fat or oil. In shops, one can tell the filling of the empanada just by looking at the pattern on it. This pattern is known as the repulgue.
Empanada fillings vary greatly depending on where you are in Argentina and what ingredients are available in that region. Most commonly, Argentinian empanadas will be filled with a combination of meat, vegetables and various spices, but some varieties contain just meat or vegetables.
In some regions you can even find dessert empanadas that are filled with different types of fruit, or even more avant-garde chocolate soaked prunes. Coastal regions of Argentina tend to use fish, especially tuna, to substitute the meat fillings of their empanadas. The most authentic Argentinian empanadas are filled with chicken or mondongo, which is a type of offal made of animal stomach-lining that is similar to tripe. However, as beef plays such an important role in Argentinian food, it is also a very common ingredient along with goat and lamb which are popular in some provinces.
Argentinian empanada recipes tend to be fairly simple. To make traditional Argentinian chicken empanadas, all that is needed for the filling is chopped cooked chicken, chopped onion, spices of your choice, chicken stock and flour to thicken the mixture. Chili peppers can also be added to provide some heat. For the dough, all that is required is flour, water and lard to bind everything together. There are no real specific rules for what empanadas should contain and you can add whatever you like. Traditionally Argentinian people fill empanadas with leftovers from other meals to reduce kitchen waste.
Empanadas are simple, tasty and convenient. Their popularity has spread beyond the traditional countries like Argentina to become truly international. These days it is not unusual to find bakeries or take-away in America that solely produce Argentinian empanadas, such is the universal appeal of this quintessentially Hispanic food item.