Bolivia is known for its special kind of empanada called a salteña. Oddly, the salteña takes it’s name from a city in Argentina (Salta), but it’s definitely a Bolivian specialty. You can recognize salteñas by the repulgue (the braid-like fold that seals the filling inside) which runs across the top of the pastry instead of along the side.
There are many varieties, but in general the meat and vegetable filling in a salteña tends to be runnier and sweeter (yet spicy) than most other empanadas. They are tricky and time-consuming to prepare, with traditional recipes calling for gelatin in the filling, so most salteña fans buy them from restaurants and street food carts. Salteñas are typically enjoyed as a mid-morning snack in Bolivia.
Salteñas are often served with a plate and a spoon, but expert salteña eaters know how to enjoy them without letting the juices run down their sleeves, by kind of pouring the liquid into their mouth as they take bites!!
And here, the recipe for this delicious treat!
½ tablespoon ground cumin
½ tablespoon black ground pepper
½ tablespoon crumbled oregano
1½ tablespoon salt
2 cups white onion, cut into small cubes
1½ cups green onion, finely chopped
3 pounds lean meat, cut into small cubes
1 cup potato, peeled, cooked, and cut into small cubes
½ cup cooked green peas
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ tablespoon vinegar
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
2 spoonfuls unflavored gelatin dissolved in 3 cups water
½ black olive per salteña
3 raisins per salteña
1 slice of boiled egg per salteña
- In a casserole add the margarine and the spicy red pepper. Set to boil over high heat until the margarine separates from the pepper. Next add cumin, ground black pepper, oregano, and salt. Let cook for ten minutes over low heat so that the mixture does not stick. Stir constantly. Next add the white onion and let it cook for five more minutes. Finally add the green onion.
- Remove the casserole from the heat, add the sugar, vinegar, parsley, potato and cooked peas.
- In another casserole add the three gelatin cups. Let it cook over high heat and as soon as it starts to boil, add the meat. Mix quickly and remove from the heat.
- Mix the first preparation with the gelatin and meat. Let it cool in the refrigerator one night or until it thickens. If wanted, add the olives, raisins and egg before it thickens or add them directly on the dough when preparing the salteñas.
12 cups flour
1½ cups lard or margarine (boiling)
6 whole eggs
½ cup sugar
3 teaspoons salt
2¼ cups lukewarm water (more or less)
- Sift the flour in a bowl and add the boiling lard or margarine. Mix quickly with a wood spoon. Let it cool for a few minutes and add the eggs, the sugar and lukewarm water with salt. Knead until getting a dry dough. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let it rest for ten minutes.
- Divide all the dough into fifty small balls and thin them out one by one with a roller, until getting round-shaped pieces (about ¼ of and inch thick by 5 inches of diameter).
- On each round-shaped piece put a spoonful of the filling with the olive, raisins and egg, if these ingredients were not mixed before.
- Dampen the edges of each piece with water, fold each one and join the edges very well so that each salteña is closed perfectly. Leave the closing on top.
- Put salteñas, on a backing sheet sprinkled with flour. Place each salteña separate from the next one. Bake them at a high temperature (European oven: 300 C.; American oven 572 F.) between seven to ten minutes. Serve them warm.
NOTE 1: If desired, paint salteñas before baking them. In a frying pan add 6 spoonfuls of lard or margarine, 2 spicy red peppers (ground), 4 spoonfuls of water and a teaspoon of salt. Mix the ingredients and cook them over low heat until the water evaporates. Remove the mixture from the heat and paint eachsalteña with a kitchen brush. NOTE 2: If desired, you can substitute meat with chicken, or you can combine both.