Empanadas con Ropa Vieja (Pork Empanadas)

Gino D'Acampo's crisp cornmeal parcels are filled with a tasty pork filling and served with a fabulous chilli sauce
By Gino D'Acampo
Empanadas con Ropa Vieja (Pork Empanadas)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: Makes 12. Serves 6
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the sauce

  • 2 guajillo chillies, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 50 ml water

For the empanada dough

  • 150 g masa harina, (Mexican cornmeal)
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 120-150 ml water

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 250 g lean pork, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • oil, for frying

Tips and Suggestions

Empanadas are turnovers made of a 'pastry', which uses masa harina (cornmeal flour) and plain flour.
Ropa viejo, the filling is of Spanish origin but common now to many Latin countries including Mexico. It means 'old clothes' because the pork is shredded and looks like rags.


1. In a large bowl mix masa harina, plain flour and salt.

2. Gradually add enough water to form a smooth, but not sticky, dough. Cover with cling film and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the pork, stirring frequently until browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat.

4. Using a sharp knife, mark a cross on the skin at the base of each tomato and place them in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 3-4 minutes, then plunge into cold water and the skins should come off easily.

5. Add the chopped onion to the tomato with the ground cumin.

6. Stir the tomato mixture into the pork in the pan and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

7. Blend all the sauce ingredients together in a food processor.

8. Unwrap the empanada dough, and divide into 12 balls.

9. Cover the plates of a tortilla press with plastic bags to stop the dough sticking and press the dough, one piece at a time to make circles about 7.5cm diameter. Alternatively roll thinly with a rolling pin between two pieces of greaseproof paper.

10. Spoon a little filling on half of each circle of dough, working quickly to stop it drying out. Dampen the edges of dough with a little water and fold it over the filling to make a semi-circle. Seal the edges by pinching between the thumb and index finger of left hand and index finger of right hand.

11. Heat a little oil in a frying pan until hot.

12. Fry the empanadas a few at a time, turning half-way through until crisp and golden on both sides.

13. Alternatively place the empanadas on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas 6 for 15-20 minutes until golden.

14. To serve, place the empanadas on a plate and pour over the sauce.

15. Serve with sour cream and feta cheese if liked.

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