Peru: The Great Empanada Meltdown

After our Greek feast, I couldn’t wait to host another international supper club. Peru was an obvious choice for our next destination since my fiancé, Cole, was leaving for Lima just a few days later. I was envious that he would get to see Machu Picchu and visit the many amazing mercados, but most of all I was jealous of all the rich food he would get to enjoy! So, I decided to create a Peruvian spread for us and a few friends right here in Oregon…

This was only our second international themed dinner, and to be honest, I’m surprised it wasn’t our last. I aimed to make this dinner a little simpler with less prep involved after tackling several tedious recipes for our previous dinner. Based on the title of this post, you’ve probably guessed this wasn’t the case.

It turns out, empanada assembly isn’t the easiest task, at least for me. I prepared the filling and dough without issues but when the time came to assemble the beef empanadas, I just couldn’t do it! No matter what I tried, I could not get the filling to stop squishing out of the center and making it impossible to pinch the dough closed. I tried every trick in the book, and when that didn’t work, I COMPLETELY lost it. I mean total breakdown. I am normally a very neat person…. When people are coming over, I make sure the apartment is tidy and I do my best to make the kitchen look like Joanna Gaines had just been there…but, apparently, empanadas are my undoing. I was so upset, when Cole came rushing in, I hardly noticed that I was emphatically shaking the two squished empanadas in my hands and spraying the kitchen with beef filling and dough. On the bright side, I now know that Cole and I are in it for the long haul. Not only did he not leave me right then, he stayed and wrapped all the empanadas for me while I cleaned up the mess I made. After all of that, I will say that the empanadas were absolutely delicious. I found the recipe on the blog, yes, I’ll have another. In their blog, they say that:

“Peruvian empanadas…are filled with seasoned ground beef, hard boiled eggs, raisins, black olives, and baked. They are then sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and served with tons of lime.”

In their recipe, they omitted the raisins, olives, and powdered sugar, however, I humbly beg you that you don’t do this. The raisin and powdered sugar add just a touch of sweetness to the savory beef filling. This sweetness is perfectly balanced by the hint of lime. If you are ever in Portland, OR, try out the restaurant, Andina. They are one of my very favorite Portland restaurants and they serve empanadas just like this.

The spinach empanadas were tasty too, but they didn’t have the unique combination of flavors that the beef ones had. I made the two doughs separately, but I didn’t notice a big difference between the two. To save some time, you could pick either recipe and make one big batch for both the meat and vegetarian option.

Spinach (top) and beef (bottom) empanadas.

Enough about empanadas. Pisco is a delicious Peruvian brandy that was enjoyed by everyone at our dinner. I chose the chilcano de pisco because I didn’t want to serve the egg white in the traditional pisco sour. The chilcano de pisco is a simple cocktail, but Cole says next time we absolutely must try the pisco sour.

My execution of the lomo saltado wasn’t great. The empanadas really took it out of me and I ended up overcooking the beef, but the dish was still tasty and I think it could be a giant success without tough beef.

Preparing the lomo saltado to be served over rice.

I served the yucca fries with creamy mojo sauce as an appetizer and they were surprisingly delicious. This was my first time working with yucca, and I would absolutely do so again. The creamy, citrus sauce was a great compliment to the salted, baked fries.

I made the alfajores (dulce de leche cookies) the night before. They took a while to assemble so leave some extra time, but the result is worth the effort. The combination of the crumbly cookies and the powdered sugar made for a bit of a messy dessert, but the flavor was worth the clean up! These little cookies were also quite beautiful arranged on a platter, and would be a good addition to a cookie exchange or arranged in a tin as a gift.

Our finished alfajores!

Next time I know to put Cole in charge of any dough-filling assembly off the bat. Otherwise, this meal was enjoyed immensely. The pisco was flowing and everyone left stuffed and pleasantly tipsy. I got the chance to work with some new ingredients and found some great dishes to make in the future. Find all of the great recipes that I used in the links below.

Once we get eating, I always forget to take pictures of all the finished dishes, but I resolve to be better about this at our next meal. Until then…Salud!

Chilcano de pisco — The Latin Kitchen
Empanadas peruana — yes, I’ll have another
Empanadas de espinaca — Pisco Trail
Lomo saltado — Will Fly for Food
Yucca fries with creamy mojo sauce — FashionEdible
Alfajores — Bake Love Give


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