Beef Empanadas

Moo Cantina
62 Brick Lane

Jose Luis and Hernan conceptualised Moo Cantina as a restaurant that was more ‘fun dining’ than ‘fine dining’. They opened first in nearby Spitalfields, before branching out to Brick Lane. These classic beef empanadas have always been on the menu and are an Argentinian staple - parcels of lightly spiced meat, traditionally finely chopped rather than minced, and mixed with fresh and dried herbs. There’s piquancy from the olives and peppers and smokiness from paprika and cumin. Think of our beloved Cornish pasty (which empanadas are said to originate from), then cast your mind to sunnier climes.


For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 500 g sirloin beef fillet, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 12-15 Manzanilla olives, pitted and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

For the Pastry

  • 130 g unsalted butter, chilled
  • 450 g plain flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100 ml milk


Make your filling first. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Throw in the onions, sauté for a couple of minutes until translucent and add the garlic and chopped red pepper. Stir through for a minute, then and add the meat, cumin, sweet and smoked paprika, oregano, salt and black pepper. Cook for around seven minutes, stirring regularly. The meat will release some liquid so once this has almost evaporated add the chopped olives and parsley. Cook for another minute, then turn off the heat. Transfer to a dish and leave to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the pastry. Cut the butter into small cubes and place in a bowl with the flour, baking powder and salt. Rub between the tips of your fingers until you have a fine breadcrumb-like texture. In a separate bowl whisk one egg with the milk and 50ml cold water. Create a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the wet ingredients. Use your hand to bring everything together to a ball of dough, then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge.

When you are ready to make your empanadas, preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C fan). Unwrap the pastry and knead for a minute, then divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 15cm round on a lightly floured surface. Place two tablespoons of filling onto the lower half of each round, leaving a centimetre gap around the edge. Fold over the top half to make a semi-circular pasty, and seal with a little water round the edges. You can either roll up the edges or gently press down with a fork to crimp.

Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl, and brush the empanadas with it. Put them on a lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve either hot or cold with chimichurri (P122) or garlic mayo.