The Saucy Scholar

Archive for the category “appetizers”

Recipe: Beef Empanadas

This savory, spicy, and sweet version of the Spanish classic was given to me recently by my mom, who knows my deep love for the empanada and for quick, relatively simple recipes I can make in my woefully undersized kitchen. This version uses refrigerated pie crust, which is definitely a time-saver and gives the empanadas a slightly buttery, flaky texture.

Beef Empanadas

My mom clipped the original version of this recipe from a magazine that I unfortunately do not know the name of, but Susan Spungen is credited as the writer and “Food Stylist.” (which sounds like the best job in the world, by the way.) I’ve re-written it slightly based on my experience cooking it, but the recipe itself is the same. I’ve also included some ideas I had for alternate fillings, for the daring among us.

What You’ll Need

  • 3/4 pound ground beef (I used just about the leanest ground beef I could find in my supermarket–healthier option and less greasy!)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small canned chipotle in adobo sauce, minced (I used about one and a half chipotles for a little more heat.)
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons raisins (almost omitted these, but so glad I didn’t!)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 2 14.1-ounce packages refrigerated, rolled pie crusts
What to Do:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. The Filling: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the ground beef, breaking it up and browning until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and remove from skillet. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium-low until translucent. Then add the beef back in, along with the tomato paste, cumin, chipotle, adobo, and water. Cook and bask in the wonderful aroma for 6-8 minutes, then add your raisins, salt, and pepper. Cook for about a minute more, then transfer to a bowl to cool.
  3. The Dough: Cut each round of pie crust dough into 4-inch circles, which should give you 16 empanadas. Don’t waste the scraps! Just combine and roll out, for 8 more. Spoon a tablespoon of filling onto each, then moisten the edges with a little water. Fold over, and press to seal. Use a fork to crimp the edges, and to prick steam vents in the pocket of each empanada. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until browned, about 15 minutes.

These came out fantastic, and will definitely be in my regular rotation. You can probably also make some great substitutions for the filling–ground turkey, lamb, or cheese and cooked veggies. Using yellow raisins might also yield a slightly different flavor and make for an interesting color combination. My mom also suggested brushing the tops with milk or eggs, for a nice browned crust.

Also, I absolutely loved the smell and flavor of the canned chipotle in adobo, and am on the hunt for more recipes using this tasty pepper. If you have any you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments!


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