Empanadas are the ultimate snack food. Theses dough-wrapped treats can be filled with a wide variety of fillings ranging from meat, seafood, vegetables and cheese that are typically baked or fried to perfection. They can be enjoyed as a snack, appetizer or meal, and don't require any utensils. They are also often accompanied by delicious dipping sauces such as chimichurri and sofrito.
They originate from many places - Spain, Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Chile just to name a few - and they each possess their own special characteristics which make them unique from country to country.
An excellent place to enjoy an assortment of these diverse empanadas is actually in Miami, Florida. It's a melting pot of Latin cultures and ethnicities, making it an exciting culinary destination. But, if traveling to the warm, sunny beaches of Miami just isn’t in the cards this spring, come take our Spring Break: A Trip to Miami class at The Chopping Block! For those of us enjoying a staycation this year, this is the perfect activity that will transport you beachside without having to make travel plans.
In our Spring Break class, you'll be making several delicious recipes, including Beef Picadillo Empanadas. What is picadillo, you ask? Each culture has its own special variation, but it's typically a sweet and savory mixture of sautéed ground beef, onions, peppers, tomatoes, spices, olives, capers and raisins. It comes from the Spanish word picar, which translates as “to mince”, hence the use of ground beef.
It makes a very tasty and savory empanada filling, but if you don't feel like using it to fill empanadas, no worries! It can be served as is over steamed rice, used as a taco or quesadilla filling, or even used to stuff bell peppers. It's delicious and comforting on its own, so use it however you like.
If you have read my blogs before, then you know I like to get my kids involved as much as possible. This is one of those recipes where the mantra "all hands on deck" really came into play. Both the dough and the filling came together very easily, but it’s the assembly portion where more helpings hands are a plus. Not only do you get dinner on the table faster, but everyone has fun together in the kitchen.
Beef Picadillo Empanadas
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: 1 dozen empanadas
Active time: 45 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes
For the dough:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon TCB fine sea salt
1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
For the filling:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, small dice
1/2 green pepper, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons pitted green olives, rough chopped
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons raisins, rough chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
1. Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and process until well combined.
2. Add the cold butter, and pulse until you have a crumbly texture. Add the egg, cold water and vinegar, and process until the dough just comes together.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface, and gently knead 2 to 3 times just to bring the dough together.
4. Flatten the dough into a 1/2-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 425°, and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.
6. To prepare the filling, heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Sauté the beef, breaking it up with a spoon, until just cooked through. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat.
7. Stir in the onions and peppers, and cook until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
8. Add the garlic, chili flakes, cumin and tomato paste, and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
9. Deglaze with the white wine, scraping free any bits of fond from the bottom of the pan, and reduce until the pan is almost dry.
10. Mix in the olives, capers and raisins, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
11. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.
12. While the filling is cooling, roll out the empanada dough. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/8-inch thick. Using a 4- to 5-inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into approximately 12 circles.
13. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling into the center of each circle. Lightly brush the edges of the circle with egg wash.
14. Fold the dough over the filling, and pinch the edges together. While holding the empanada in one hand, use your other hand to pinch and fold the edge of the dough to create a rope-like effect.
15. Place the empanadas on the prepared sheet tray, and lightly brush the tops with egg wash.
16. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving with Chipotle-Sour Cream Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).
Sour Cream Chipotle Sauce
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 lime zested and juiced
1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, rough chopped
Salt to taste
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, chipotle peppers, cilantro and salt. Serve chilled.
I served our empanadas as a meal with a salad on the side, which was a great way to enjoy the warm and sunny flavors of the Latino kitchen!
Come make these delicious hand-held treats in our Spring Break class along with Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche, Sautéed Snapper with Orange-Fennel Slaw and Mojo Verde (Fresh Herb-Jalapeño Sauce) and Individual Key Lime Pies with Whipped Cream.
Our classes are being offered on: