- The dough. Measure the flour into a bowl, then thoroughly work in the fat. Dissolve the salt in the hot water, then work it into the flour mixture, making a medium-stiff dough. Knead just enough to bring the dough together and smooth. Don't overwork the dough.
- Resting. Divide the dough into 16 portions, roll each into a ball, set on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough easier to roll).
- Forming the empanadas. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of dough into a 5-inch diameter circle. Very lightly brush the perimeter with water, then scoop about 3 tablespoons of filling onto one side. Fold the uncovered side over the filling, expelling as much air as possible, then press the two edges firmly together. Lay the empanada on a baking sheet; continue forming turnovers with the remaining balls of dough. Firmly seal the empanadas by pressing the two edges together with the tines of a fork or by making the rope edge described below.
- The optional decorative rope edge. Hold an empanada in one hand; with the thumb and first finger of the other hand, pinch out a 1/2-inch section of the dough on the nearest end. flattening it so that it extends out 1/4-inch beyond the rest of edge. With your thumb, curl over the top half of the pinched-out section of dough (it should look like a wave braking), then gently press it down to secure it. Now, pinch out the next 1/2-inch section of dough, curl the top side over, and press it down. Continue until you reach the other end. Fold the last pinched-out section back on itself, finished the seal. Complete the rope edge on the remaining empanadas and return them to the baking sheet. The empanadas can be frozen at this point and held for several weeks.
- Frying the empanadas. About 15 minutes before serving, heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry the empanadas 2 or 3 at a time, until deep golden, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a low oven until all are fried. Serve at once.