This recipe works well with all of the following fillings, and because it’s baked, the empanadas can be prepared in advance of serving. For more flavor and heat, add ground chile to the dough before rolling out and cutting the pastry.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening, lard or a combination of the two
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
1 large egg beaten lightly with 1/4 teaspoon water (for glaze)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or two forks. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, and lightly toss with a fork to incorporate it. Add only enough water for the dough to hold together and be gathered into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Bring the dough back to room temperature before rolling.
To make the crust, gently roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch and use a cutter to cut circles to the desired diameter. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the filling off-center on each circle. Brush the edges with water, fold in half and seal securely using either your finger or a fork.
Brush the empanadas with the egg glaze, place on a lightly oiled baking pan, and bake them for 10 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
Remove them from the pan and cool them on a rack before serving.