Empanadas are popular in most Latin American countries, but each location has a different versions. Of course most of them are (SADLY!) made with gluten but I was so happy to find some gluten free versions in Panama.
During our trip our hosting family prepared them for breakfast. At first I thought it was unusual (due to my Italian habits I'm used to a sweet breakfast) but I loved it! I went to the supermarket to look for more and they had 2 alternatives: frozen ready-to-fry empanadas or a corn flour package with the instructions. The first one would have been too easy, right?
It was really fun and easy to make them on my own, and I hope you will try as well to bake your own corn flour, gluten free, empanadas.
Ingredients (makes 12 empanadas)
130 gr corn flour (precooked version, for example PAN or other brands)
190 gr water
150 gr minced meat (beef)
1 small shallot
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
Olive oil to cook
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the filling first. Drizzle some oil in a medium pan and get it warm over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and bring down the heat to low, stir regularly and let it cook for 5 minutes until light brown. Add the minced meat, the spices, a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Prepare the dough by mixing the corn flour, salt and water. Knead with your hands for a couple of minutes until you can form a ball, then let it rest for 2 minutes.
To prepare the half-moon shaped empanadas, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to 2-3 mm, and cut medium circle with a ring. Place a spoonful of filling in each disk (on one side) then complete the shape of each empanada: gently fold the circle over itself and press the edges with your fingertips to seal it. Brush the surface with some olive oil.
Bake for 15 minutes in pre-heated oven at 200 °C.
TIPS: I baked the empanadas in the oven to make them lighter, however in Panama the fried version is more common so you can try that method as well, they will become more crunchy. Do you want to avoid meat? You'll love the cheese empanadas! Use 150 gr of grated mozzarella or fresh cheese instead to fill them.