De carne suave, carne picante o cortada a cuchillo? Or maybe you prefer jamón y queso, pollo or capresse? Humita or roquefort? Whether fried or baked in the oven, empanadas have become one of Argentina's most iconic foodstuffs.
The national fanaticism for empanadas is such that a new study by the Asociación de Pizzerías y Casas de Empanadas de la República Argentina (APYCE) places the turnover treat as the third most consumed food in the country after pizza and asado barbeque. (The list of the top five is completed by milanesas and pasta.)
Drilling down into the issue, with the help of data from one of the most popularly used food delivery apps in Argentina, APYCE drew up a ranking of the most popular types. According to the report, the podium is made up of carne suave empanadas (non-spicy meat) on 20 percent, followed by ham and cheese, with 19 percent, and in third place, chicken, with 11 percent.
According to this ranking, in fourth place are meat empanadas cortada a cuchillo (i.e. chopped, not minced meat) with 10 percent, followed by humita (corn or maize) with seven percent. Vegetable empanadas are not far behind, with six percent, ahead of capresse (mozzarella, tomato and basil), roquefort cheese and carne picante (spicy meat) on five percent.
Finally, cheese and onion, butternut squash and “cheeseburger” empanadas make up the final sports, chosen by only four percent of Argentines or less.
The popularity of empanadas is such that they form part of the identity and gastronomic culture of each region of the country. In the provinces of Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja and Salta, for example, meat options have cubes of potato included, while in Jujuy they usually add peas too.
In Tucumán, matambre filling is very popular and the proportion of meats used is normally higher than that of the other ingredients.
Outside the capital, it is also more common for chicken to be used as a filling, while in parts of the northwest and the Litoral, dried meat or charqui is often added. In some regions, such as Santiago del Estero and San Luis, raisins and olives are used.
According to Argentina’s Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries Ministry, in 2010 it was estimated that more than 10 million empanadas were consumed in the country every day. But the figure was derived from an analysis of the number of empanadas sold at the "industrial" level during that year, not even touching on those made at home.
The results showed that each Argentine consumed an average of 1.4 kilos of the pastry used for empanadas per year