Monday, February 7, 2011

My Beef & Green Pepper Empanadas

I've been really excited about the thought of making empanadas myself.  I am always looking for something a little different to make that my picky eater boyfriend may actually eat too, so I'm doing a these empanadas for the first time with very familiar ingredients that I know he will eat - and if all goes well, I can get more creative next time!   After looking at several recipies, here's my plan:

  • 1 lb ground beef (80% lean, no more or will be dry)
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots (i'm hiding veggies here!)
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion(or scallions)
  • 1/2 red chili, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • oil
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • a dash of paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste
  • 1 pkg premade pie dough (2 shells)
  • 2 egg whites, beaten
  • 2 egg yolks + milk, beaten to a wash

  1. Add a little oil to a large skillet, and sautee onions and garlic.
  2. Add carrots and peppers and continue to sautee.
  3. Add ground beef and cook until brown sprinkling with spices, soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.  Add raisins if you are using them, and let them cook w/ the meat for a few minutes.  Stir in cilantro if using.
  4. Now taste your filling - it should taste a bit on the strong side because when it's cooked, it's going to have to flavor through that pie dough.  If it is not strong enough for you, add more of whatever it needs.
  5. If you chose to drain the meat at this point, reserve the liquid.  You want your filling to be very moist, otherwise your empanadas will dry out - use your best judgement.  if it's soup, go ahead and drain, and add a little back in. If it's looking good, then stick with it.  Alternately, you could drain to get the fat out, and add in a little chicken/beef/veg stock to put that liquid back in. I found that I did not need to drain mine at all.  When meat is finished cooking, remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.
To assemble
  1. Roll out package dough to be a bit thinner, about 1/8" thick.  Use a glass or a cookie cutter to cut rounds (3" diameter makes snack size, 4-5" diameter for full size).  You can get 10-12 rounds out of a single pie dough sheet.
  2. Lay a few rounds on a board, dip your fingers into the egg whites and draw a circle around the end of the first round.  Fill the round with a 1 to 1-1/2 tsp of filling making sure to get some of all of the ingredients onto it, especially if you have raisins or cilantro in it.. You are going to want to put more into it to stuff them.  Resist this temptation or they will tear your pastry!
  3. Now, fold dough over in half, and press around to seal using your fingers for now.  Repeat with as many rounds as you have layed out.  When round one is finished, press the tines of a fork around the edges to seal together.  Move onto waxed paper or a cutting board or baking sheet.  I'm baking in Hawaii and the dough was getting sticky, so i poped them in the fridge to re-firm so they wouldn't fall apart on me as I moved them.
  4. Repeat this process w/ all rounds, working in batches as needed.  When ready to bake, brush empanada tops with egg yolk wash and place on baking sheet.  
To bake

  1. Bake in a preheated oven of 400F, for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pre-make tips:
  • The dough can be rolled out and cut into circles ahead of time.  Just wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a day ahead.  I would suggest layering waxed paper between the rounds to prevent them from sticking to one another.
  • Empanadas can be made ahead of time and frozen flat, then bagged when fully frozen.  When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425,  coat pan w/ 2 tbsp oil.  Heat oil in pan for a few minutes, then add the empanadas, coating them w/ a brush of additional oil on the tops as they may need it, and bake 30-35 minutes.
  • 1 handfull chopped cilantro, and/or 1/4 cup raisins

Okay, this is the plan.  I'll let you know how it turns out !  
 Yummo!  Really good, though I think I will try a different crust next time, just to see the difference, but this definitely works and tastes great!

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