Off-Grid Cooking: Empanadas

An empanada is basically a little pie that is fried or baked. These hand-held pies are delicious and there is no limit to what you can fill them with.

Empanadas are suitable for any meal and also make awesome snacks. Let’s talk about the dough before we get onto the unlimited world of filling.

Empanada Dough

3 Cups Flour

1 Teaspoon Sea Salt

1 Large Egg

1 Egg White

1 Teaspoon Vinegar

½ Cup Very Cold Water

3 Tablespoons Shortening

In a small bowl beat the egg, egg white, water, and white vinegar and set aside.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt, and then cut in shortening.

Mix your wet and dry mixes together until it is stiff.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth.

Make little dough balls that will be rolled out into disc shapes, the size of the disc is up to you just keep in mind that when you make the pie the dough will be folded in half. You can make several discs up ahead of time, using wax paper to keep them separated. You can also freeze part of the batch to have handy another time, just thaw them out when you are ready to use them.

You can spice up your dough with different seasonings and spices. Don’t worry, the vinegar has no effect on the taste (unless you use too much) – it is more for the chemistry in the cooking.

The Filling

Here’s where you get to be creative and go with your own preferences. As I mentioned, empanadas can be made for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, and snacks it all depends on what you fill them with. Traditional empanadas are filled with different meats or vegetables, some just cheese. Traditional is really good but every now and then, a little spin on tradition is quite nice. Your pantry, cupboards, and refrigerator are the limits when it comes to options.

Basic Breakfast Empanadas – Scramble up some eggs or egg whites. You can add any meats you like. I cook all of my breakfast fillings, fill my empanada disc making sure to leave space to close it up, top with cheese, close the disc and fry or bake in a Dutch oven. Sometimes I will just make an omelet and chop it up, throw it in a disc and go from there.

Lunch Empanada – The little ones love pizza empanadas. Add about a teaspoon – tablespoon of the sauce of your choice, add your pizza toppings, seal up and fry or bake. If the kiddos like chicken alfredo you could also use that combination.

Dinner – Just like the other empanadas, make your meal and toss it into the empanada disc and fry or bake it. Some of my favorite combinations include seasonal vegetables and my favorite protein.

As I mentioned there is little to no limit on what you could do with empanadas. You can stick with the traditional versions or you can create your own.

Dessert – I am a big fan of desserts, not just because I love to eat them, but because I love to make them. Dessert empanadas are the best. Make a little apple pie filling, toss it in the disc, seal it off, cook it and enjoy!

One thing I do like to adjust when making more of the dessert empanadas is I like to use 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour and 1 ½ cups almond flour. This adds a nice texture and a sweet nutty flavor to the empanada. Another thing I will do is add a little sweetened cocoa to the dough mixture and make chocolate pies.

The most important part about the empanada is that the empanada discs are made properly. Take any leftovers you have that normally won’t get eaten and turn it into empanadas and I bet they will disappear quickly. I have even made turkey and stuffing empanadas.

I know when thinking about camping or cooking over fire, empanadas might not be one of the first things that come to mind but I am here to help you see that the limitations to off-grid cooking are not so many as we think. Just as you would pack a cooler with cold items pack your pre-made empanada discs and fillings in it as well. All you will need for the cooking is a Dutch oven if you wish to bake or a skillet for frying.

Go ahead and create your own empanadas, and let us know how they turned out!