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Chef Hubert O’Farrell’s Argentine Beef Tenderloin Empanadas

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A pocket pie

Argentine chef Hubert O’Farrell is visiting San Antonio this week to cook at NAO, the restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. On his special menu are some down-home favorites, including these empandas, which showcase one of his country’s greatest culinary treasures, grass-fed beef.

The recipe calls for a salmuera, which is a brine, as well as a brunoise of the beef and the onion. What’s that? According to, “Brunoise is nothing more than a very small dice. Chefs just like to call it brunoise because we love adjectives and nouns that make things seem more complex than they really are.

NAO is at 312 Pearl Parkway. Call (210) 554-6484 for information.

Argentine Beef Tenderloin Empanadas (Empanadas de Lomo Cortado a Cuchillo)

1 tablespoon salt
4 cups water

3 ¼ pounds organic all-purpose flour
10 1/2 ounces melted pig fat

2 1/4 pounds grass-fed beef tenderloin, trimmed
3 1/4 pounds white onion
1 pound butter or “cow fat”
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
3 tablespoons Spanish sweet pimentòn
2 tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons coarse sun-dried aji chile powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1 pound scallions (cebolla de verdeo)

For the salmuera: Add salt to water.

For the dough: Place the flour in a mixer with a dough hook and pour the warm pig fat. Start in slow motion and slowly add the salmuera as much as the dough “needs” it. Once the dough is silky and smooth, you can turn it off and reserve for about an hour wrapped in film and refrigerate. Flatten the dough until it is thin enough without breaking. Cut in circles 2.5 inches in diameter.

For the filling: Freeze the meat for 1 hour so it is easier to cut. With a sharp knife, cut the tenderloin and the onions brunoise, separately. Toast all the dry condiments and add them to the boiling water with the salt. Cook the onions in the butter or cow fat until transparent and add the meat. Mix with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Turn the burner off and add the liquid and the scallions. Stir. Chill the filling in a baking sheet to stop the cooking process. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Assemble the empanadas using the preparation as cold as possible so that the juices will stay in the mixture and be more flavorful. Place the circle of dough in the palm of your left hand, place a spoonful of the filling and close quickly making a “repulgue,” a rope-like edge. Place each empanada on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the dough is browned, about 12 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen empanadas.

From chef Hubert O’Farrell

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