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Empanadas Colombianas | A Colombian Savory Pie

Fried empanadas on a white plate.

What I’ve enjoyed most, though, is meeting people who have a real interest in food and sharing ideas with them. Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it!

Jamie Oliver

When people get excited about food, I do too. One day my coworker Lede walked behind us carrying a casserole dish with delicious savory smells wafting behind her. Maddy said “Lede, you didn’t!”. I whipped around to see what all the fuss was about and eyed Lede placing the dish down with a smile lighting up her face. “Please, for you” she said gesturing toward the casserole dish. Maddy jumped up and I followed, not wanting to miss out on something clearly exciting and tasty that was about to enter my life.

Peeling back the foil revealed little meat and potato pies from Colombia called Empanadas Colombianas, or Colombian Empanadas. We indulged and for a while shared a communal ritual between friends. She made a bunch of empanadas and of course I gave her the third degree. ‘How do you make these?’ – ‘Is it hard?’ – ‘What kind of corn for the masa?’, she patiently answered each query.

After that day, I was almost confident enough to dive in. Her instructions were pretty clear. Boil the meat in Sazon, make the sofrito, boil potatoes, mash everything together. Make the masa and roll them out between two pieces of plastic, fill, fold, deep fry. OK, got it. I was still nervous but excited.

Looking back, this was not hard. There were several steps but overall, pretty easy. I even took a short cut with the food processor. I’m hooked on my food processor and use it all the time.

A packet of Sazon Goya con cilantro Y achiote on a white plate.
Thyme, cumin and a cube of bouillon on a white plate.
Sofrito ingredients in a food processor.
Sofrito blended in a food processor.
Sofrito in a skillet with cubed potatoes.
Sofrito cooking in a skillet.
A bag of Maiz Blanco.
A plate of empanada with sour cream and salsa.

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An empanada on a plate with sour cream and salsa.
Fried empanadas on a white plate.

Empanadas Colombianas | A Colombian Savory Pie

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Empanadas Colombianas is a traditional meat pie from South America with beef, tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices. Serve with your favorite salsa at your next fiesta.  Deep fried, these pies will surely be the hit of the party.

Ingredients

DOUGH

  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/1 cups of pre-cooked white corn meal
  • cooking spray

SOFRITO

  • 15 oz can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bouillon cube

FILLING

  • 4 medium starchy potatoes (Idaho), peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water for boiling
  • 1 lb of beef roast (any kind)
  • 2 packets of Sazon y Achiote

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add water and salt.  Slowly add the cornmeal while mixing with your hands.  Knead the dough until it is well mixed.  Set aside.
  2. In a large pot add potatoes and salt.  Add enough water to cover potatoes.  Boil over medium-high heat for 20 minutes or until tender.  Drain and return to pan.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, add beef to another pot, add Sazon and enough water to cover beef.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, skim off any scum that forms.  Continue simmering meat for 30 minutes.  Remove meat from pot, save liquid in pot and place meat on cutting board.  Let cool then chop or shred meat.
  4. When potatoes are done cooking, drain off liquid and set aside.
  5. In a food processor add sofrito ingredients and pulse until onions are chopped, careful not to over process.  
  6. Add sofrito to a large skillet and bring to a simmer.  Cook 5 minutes while stirring often.  Add potatoes and meat.  Stir well.  Add enough of the meat liquid until you get the consistency you want.  Heat another 5 minutes.  Set aside for assembly.
  7. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan until it reaches 360F or until bubbles form immediately when sticking a wooden handle in the oil.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Cut a gallon plastic storage bag along the sides but leave the bottom intact.  You will use this to roll out your dough.
  2. Roll some dough in the palm of your hands until it measures a 2 inch ball.  Spray inside of plastic bag with cooking spray.  Place ball in in between the two plastic sheets.  With your fingers, press on the plastic and form a circle with the dough until it measures roughly 6 inches across.  
  3. Open plastic sheet, add a scoop of filing to one half of the dough.  With the help of the plastic, lift the other half of the dough over the filling.  Leave the plastic on top, covering the empanada. Take a small bowl and press the empanada closed.  
  4. Open the plastic, gently lift the empanada up and gently lower into the hot oil.  It is safest to lower the empanada with a ladle or spatula, being careful not to splash any hot oil.  Cook until golden, drain on paper towels.  Keep cooking the empanadas one at a time.  If you cook more than one at a time, be sure to raise the heat.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 pie
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 313Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 637mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Laura Franco

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

I love empanadas and so enjoy the rhythm of making them. I learned the recipe from my abuelita and wanted to check out what ingredients from the U.S can be used to achieve the same flavor. I did want to ask if you could be sure to use the word Colombia, it is definitely a minor detail but for a country that gets a lot of bad rep, I’d love for people to know that good things come from there as well by using the correct spelling of the country.

Tina

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

Thank you Laura for this feedback. I think I fixed all of the mis-spellings. I am a product of declining spelling ability and auto-correct. Thank you for helping me make this article better and more accurate. I would love to hear about your memories of cooking with your Abuelita:)

Bianca

Sunday 24th of March 2019

These look challenging but so worth it. It will probably take me longer to make these since I haven't done anything like this before. Looking forward to playing in the kitchen today, thanks for this!

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