Empanaditas Vallunas

Beef and Pork Turnovers


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Ninety

    2 inch empanadas

Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

I have in my home a person who can eat more empanadas than anyone else in the world: my husband. We used to sit beside the pool at the club in his hometown of Cali, and order so many empanadas they even prepared the ají especially for him. They are a staple in his diet on weekends. These empanadas can be served with any of the ajíes from the Salsas and Sauces chapter as well as with lime wedges. They are sold frozen in supermarkets in miniature one-inch empanadas for parties, and regular two-inch empanadas to be served as snacks, sent in lunchboxes, or served at lunch or dinner.

Even though the masa or dough for these empanadas is rarely used with any other filling, my daughter has them fried flat (with no filling) to be served as chips.



  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • cups minced green onion*
  • cups peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin*
  • ¼ teaspoon color* or turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons minced cilantro

Guiso or Filling

  • 1 pound pork, cut in ½-inch dice
  • 1 pound beef skirt steak, cut in ½-inch dice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin*
  • ¼ teaspoon color* or turmeric
  • 1 small onion, cut in ½
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • cups peeled, diced russet potatoes, ½-inch dice
  • cups peeled, diced yellow or Yukon gold potatoes, ½-inch dice

Masa* or Dough for Empanadas

  • 4 cups precooked yellow cornmeal*
  • 5 cups hot tap water
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 quarts oil for frying
  • Ají and lime wedges, for serving


  1. MAKE THE HOGAO: In a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, place the oil, green onion, tomatoes, garlic, salt, cumin, and color. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onion flavor has completely blended in. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro. Set aside.
  2. While the hogao is cooking, START THE FILLING: Combine the pork, beef, salt, pepper, cumin and color in a bowl; set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium pressure cooker, place 3 cups of water, the onion, garlic, bouillon cube and seasoned meats. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Let cool to release the steam, and uncover. Remove the meats, leaving the cooking liquid in the pot; chop the meats as small as you can. Add to the hogao.
  4. Add the potatoes to the meat-cooking liquid, cover, and cook without pressure for 20 minutes. The potatoes will have overcooked and some of them will look mashed. That is the way it is supposed to be. Add the potatoes to the meats and hogao mixture.
  5. While the meats are cooking, MAKE THE DOUGH: Place the cornmeal in a large bowl. Add the water, and mix until all the flour is moistened. Set aside for 5 minutes. Add the oil and salt, and mix with your hands for 1 minute, then form into a ball or log and place into a large 5- to 7-quart caldero* or heavy pot. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes turning continuously. Remove from the pot and set aside to rest uncovered at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  6. Divide the dough into about 54 tablespoonfuls; roll each portion into a ball.
  7. Place the balls of dough between two pieces of plastic. With the tips of your fingers or a flat pot cover, flatten to ⅛ inch. Remove the top plastic and place about ½ tablespoon of filling in the center of the flattened dough. Holding the plastic underneath, fold over the dough to form a half-moon shape, and press the edges of the dough together with a small coffee cup to seal. Repeat until you have flattened, filled, folded, and sealed all the dough.
  8. Heat the oil in a heavy, deep pot, to 350° to 375°F. Deep fry the empanadas a few at a time in the hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes, moving them around in the oil as they fry, for an even distribution of the heat. They should be crunchy and hard on the outside. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain over paper towels. Repeat until all empanadas have been cooked and drained.
  9. Serve with any of the ajíes in this book and lime wedges.