Beef and Potato Empanadas Vallunas

Cuisine: Colombian
Servings: 25-30 empanadas

Just the same as with arepas, in Colombia you will find several types of empanadas. The empanadas made with potatoes and beef are the most popular, and by that I mean they are the ones people make or sell the most. But one of the most delicious are these empanadas vallunas, which come from Colombia's Valle del Cauca and are made with papa criolla (creole potatoes) and shredded beef. That's why they are so good.

Try to find frozen papa criolla. If you can't find it, then use any yellow potato you can get your hands on.

Serve these empanadas with any kind of sauce, such as Colombian hot sauce, Colombian green hot sauce or the Mexican hot sauce of your choice.


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  1. In a pressure cooker, add the beef, green onion, white onion, garlic, beef bouillon, enough water to cover the beef and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a boil or pressure on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 1½ hours if using a pressure cooker, or 3 hours if using a regular pot.
  2. Once the meat is ready, release the pressure and uncover carefully. Take out the beef, let it cool completely and then shred it with your hands or a couple of forks. Reserve the stock and set the beef aside.
  3. Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with the reserved stock. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil on high heat. Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and cook until tender. If using frozen papa criolla it will take no more than 5 minutes. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a potato masher or a fork and set them aside.
  4. To make the masa (dough), pour hot water into a large bowl. Add the food coloring, vegetable oil and salt. Stir well and then slowly add the pre-cooked cornmeal. Knead with your hands until it's soft and smooth. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Add the green onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes or until they're softened. Season with cumin and food coloring. Add 1 cup of water and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Now add the shredded beef and the mashed potatoes and stir well to cover them with the tomato sauce. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.
  6. Pre-heat oil at 350ºF.
  7. To assemble the empanadas, cover a tortilla press with plastic, place a small ball in the center and press. You can also flatten the dough ball with a plate or the bottom of a small pot. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the dough, then with the help of the plastic fold the dough in half to form a half moon. Press the edge of the dough with your fingers and then make a clean cut around the border with a small bowl or large cup. Continue this process until you are done assembling the empanadas.
  8. Deep-fry the empanadas at 350ºF for about 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with Colombian hot sauce or Colombian green hot sauce and lime wedges.

Chef Notes

To avoid getting cracks in your empanadas, deep-fry them as soon as you assemble them so the dough doesn't dry out.

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