PHOTO: John Ivanko
John D. Ivanko
March 26, 2014

Chicken Empanadas with Guasacaca Sauce - Photo by John D. Ivanko/ (
Photo by John D. Ivanko/

At our farm and bed-and-breakfast, we offer a tasting tour of our gardens, allowing guests to nibble on pea tendrils, fresh strawberries or lemon balm as we walk. However, when the roles are flipped and we become the travelers, we never pass up the chance to become culinary tourists, as well. On a recent trip to Miami, we hopped aboard Miami Culinary Tours’ South Beach Tour, giving us a taste of the Latin-inspired cuisine found in Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District.

With the growing farm-to-table movement and a cultural fascination with the stories behind local chefs, restaurants and ingredients, it’s no wonder culinary travel is taking off around the country. Our guide (and part comedian), Richie Marchosky, led us to seven delicious and distinctive restaurants, including Bolivar, specializing South American fusion cuisine, and Charlotte’s Bakery, where we sampled Argentinean empanadas with guasacaca sauce prepared by the shop’s third generation owners. Of course, in true Miami style, we also sipped a shot of Cuban coffee.

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In addition to the South Beach Tour, Miami Culinary Tours leads hungry tourists to the Wynwood and Little Havana neighborhoods, offering glimpses into Miami’s diverse food scene. The company’s founder, Grace Della, works hard to pull together restaurants that showcase the city’s international flavors. Anyone who loves great food—and there’s plenty of it—shouldn’t miss a chance at a behind-the-scenes peek into the tapestry and diversity of South Beach.

Until you get a chance to join one of the Miami Culinary Tours, you can savor a chicken empanada at home with this family recipe shared by Della’s mother, Teresa Gastellu. The creamy and popular South American condiment, guasacaca sauce, turns a great appetizer into a perfect treat.

Recipe: Chicken Empanada with Guasacaca Sauce
Courtesy Teresa Gastellu

Yield: 12 empanadas, 2 cups sauce



  • 2 T. corn oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 pound yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
  • 4 spring onion green tops, chopped
  • 2½ tsp. of aji molido (ground red dry spicy peppers)
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet and hot paprika
  • 2½ tsp. ground cumin


  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 green peppers, seeded, deveined and chopped
  • 2 avocados, peeled and seeded
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 T. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup olive oil


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. sea salt
  • 1 pound flour
  • 3 T. butter


In large frying pan with heavy bottom, heat corn oil and butter. Sauté onion until transparent. Add chicken and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Add olives, eggs, spring onions, and spices. Pour 1/4 cup hot water overtop, let filling boil about 2 minutes or until chicken is completely cooked.

Set filling aside to cool, then place refrigerator overnight.

Blend all ingredients, except the olive oil, in food processor until smooth.

Add the olive oil while blending. Process until liquefied enough to drizzle. (If left chunky, you can serve it as dip.) Allow the flavors to mingle by keeping at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.

If made in advance, store in squeeze bottle in refrigerator. Before serving, bring sauce to room temperature for optimal flavor.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Make “salmuera” (aka brine) by boiling water in small saucepan. Dissolve salt in water. Set aside to cool.

In large bowl, mix flour, butter and water to form dough. Let it rest for 30 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 small balls, and flatten them into small rounds. Alternatively, roll out dough and cut out rounds with 4-inch-diameter jar or biscuit cutter.

Place portion of filling in center of each down round. Dampen the dough edges before folding over and sealing with your fingers or fork. Place empanadas on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately with a guasacaca sauce drizzled on top.


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