How $20 Empanadas Bring Me Closer To My Family

Refinery29's My Kitchen Sink is an exploration of our most meaningful recipes — the go-to dishes that we turn to time and again. Not only do we enjoy eating them, and have the assembly mastered, but they also have an important personal history. Step into our kitchens to relive these stories, learn the recipes, and make them with us.
Today, in honor of Mother's Day, we're making a special batch of empanadas with a mother-daughter duo. The recipe comes from Refinery29's associate producer, Serena Kerrigan, and her mom, Lily Neumeyer. The pair recently teamed up to show us how their family makes the dish, how cooking together connects them to their Argentinian roots, and why a lucky TSA dog once got to eat an entire batch.
The legendary empanadas were passed into the hands of Serena's grandmother, aunt, and mom by Lily's nanny (more affectionately known as her second mother), Lelia. Although the recipe has remained the same over the years, Serena still swears that Lelia's empanadas were the absolute best. "Lelia just knew, she put some sort of magic in them," she says.
The dish is something Serena and Lily typically make on special occasions — when family is visiting or when they just want to feel close to loved ones that live in Buenos Aires, a 12-hour plane ride away. "If I eat empanadas in New York, I feel like I'm in Buenos Aires...I think there is something about food and family, and taste and smell that really can transport you." says Serena.
Even though Serena doesn't consider herself particularly adept in the kitchen, she finds comfort in, and feels inspired by, making empanadas. "Argentina itself inspires me with its food. It's a way to remain a part of the culture; it's a way to connect," says Serena. "It's those little things like speaking in an Argentinean accent or eating empanadas that really bring you in and make you feel close to your family." Watch Serena and Lily at work above, and try making their empanada recipe below.
Makes 10
1 large onion, minced
1 (1-lb.) package lean sirloin ground meat
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 package Goya Discos Large Yellow Pastry Dough for Empanadas
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Cumin, to taste
Paprika, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sauté the minced onion in a pan with olive oil over medium heat and cook until soft but not yet brown.
2. Mix meat and seasoning (paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper) into pan with cooked onions and top with a crumbled vegetable bouillon cube (*do not make it into a broth). Continue to cook the meat until brown.
3. Once the meat-onion mixture is cooked, remove pan from heat and put it in a separate dish to cool. In the meantime, peel and chop the hardboiled eggs before adding to the cooled down mixture.
4. Start filling the empanadas by putting a spoonful of the mixture inside one tapa and folding it closed, from outside to the inside (*do not put in too much filling).
5. Once all tapas have been filled and folded, place the empanadas on a greased sheet pan in the preheated oven until they are browned on both sides (about 30 minutes, flipping half-way through).

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