Buenos Dias Buenos Aires! Breakfast from Argentina

May 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

It’s been a while since we had our last international breakfast (see Breakfasts of the World category in the sidebar). The plan is to work through every country in the world in alphabetical order and it must be at least a month since Antigua.

I was pretty excited about the prospect of an Argentinian breakfast. Surely there would be mounds of barbecued steak? Sadly not. I was amused by one travel blog which recorded with disappointment that breakfast in Argentina comprises a croissant (known as medialuna), a coffee and a glass of water. The beef for which Argentina is justly famous is strictly a main meal affair.

So our breakfast was indeed medialunas (bought not made), café con leche and of course, lashings of wonderful dulce de leche. Sadly the Merchant Gourmet dulce de leche, authentically Argentinian from the evocatively named La Esmeralda farm seems to have disappeared from our local supermarket shelves and I had to make do with a Bonne Maman Confiture de Lait, a similar sweet milk caramel idea but from France and not quite as thick and unctuous.

If you too are suffering from dulce de leche withdrawal symptoms, here’s the Merchant Gourmet website dulce de leche page – you can buy it online now with free delivery if you buy in bulk.


I also noticed that the San Ignacio brand of dulce de leche has its own UK website now which gives some useful background info on what it is and how it’s made and a singularly unuseful list of retail stockists. They are listed in alphabetical order of shop name so you have to scan the whole list by eye to find a shop near you. I came up with Harvey Nichols in Manchester and a deli in Frodsham, Cheshire as possibilities for me.


I digress. Back to the proper business of breakfast. A bought croissant, a cup of coffee and a jar of caramel was OK but didn’t quite hit the spot. I had to get beef into the breakfast somehow so I trawled the internet until I found a reference to eating beef empanadas (pasties to you and me) for breakfast. I’d struck gold at last!

I found a recipe for beef empanadas in “South American Food and Cooking” by Jenni Fleetwood and Marina Filipelli – essentially a minced beef and potato stuffing encased in dinky shortcrust pastry rounds folded over to make mini pasties.

Here are the pastry circles and filling:

And here is the complete breakfast with the empanadas fresh out of the oven. I made a quick salsa with tomato, pepper, avocado, coriander and plenty of lime juice and seasoning to serve with the pasties:

Recipe for beef empanadas

I simplified the recipe I found in “South American Food and Cooking” by Fleetwood and Filipelli. I’ve halved the filling quantity which was way too much for the specified pastry quantity. I used minced beef rather than shredding it finely and baked the pasties rather than deep frying them for a lighter result. This worked well.


1 lb (450g) shortcrust pastry (bought or make your own with 8 oz (225g) flour; 4 oz (90g) fat)
l lb (450g) minced beef (use shin or leg if mincing your own)
4 tablespoons oil
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tsp paprika
8 fl oz (250 ml) light stock
1lb (450g) waxy potatoes scrubbed (no need to peel) and finely diced
3 chopped canned tomatoes (or fresh ones skinned)
3 spring onions finely sliced
salt and pepper

Make the filling. Heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan. When hot, add the beef and sauté until lightly browned. Push the beef to the side of the pan and add the cumin, garlic and paprika. Reduce the heat and cook gently for about 2 minutes until the spices release their aroma.

Stir in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, tomatoes and onions and cook for 15 minutes more until the potatoes are tender. Keep an eye on the cooking liquid adding a little more water if necessary or alternatively reducing if there is too much. You are aiming for quite a dry mixture. Season and allow to cool completely.

Roll out the pastry very thinly on a floured board. Using a pastry cutter cut out 2 and 1/2 inch (6cm) circles. Spoon about 1 and 1/2 tsp filling into the centre of each pastry circle. Brush the edges of the pastry with water. Fold the pastry over to form a half moon. Turn the edges over and press together firmly to form a good seal. Bake at 200 degrees C until the pasties are golden brown.

Serve with your favourite fresh salsa.

Enjoy your Argentian breakfast! Carlos Tevez, if you happen to read this please do drop me a line with your breakfast thoughts…

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