Beef Empanadas

Serves 4-6.

This Argentinean specialty can be served as an appetizer or along with a meal. It’s also an unexpected and welcome hors d’oeuvre for tailgate parties and holiday gatherings. Empanadas can be pre-made and frozen up to one month before baking or frying.

Vegetable or canola oil
1 pkg. empanada dough* (12 pk.)
1 pound. ground meat
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 boiled eggs, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
¼ tablespoon paprika
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.
In large skillet, warm oil and sauté chopped onions and peppers until onions are transparent. Add ground beef, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper and cook thoroughly. (To maintain a “juicy” filling, you might need to add some beef broth to keep it moist.) Once the filling is cooked, let it cool at room temperature. Then, add the chopped boiled eggs and mix.
Place 1 heaping teaspoon of beef mixture in the center of the round empanada dough. Fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges firmly. Seal the empanada tightly by twisting and curling the edges between thumb and index finger, making sure to add pressure before releasing and moving on to the next curl. (Seal tightly to prevent leakage during baking.)

Repeat with the remaining rounds and beef mixture. (Up to this point, the recipe can be made ahead and frozen for up to one month). Arrange empanadas on a slightly buttered baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the dough is cooked and golden.

Variants: Traditionally, Argentineans might add raisins and/or chopped olives. You can also make empanadas with shredded chicken (you can use leftovers) or any other meat, and vegetarians might enjoy tomato-mozzarella empanadas with basil. If you have a spicy palate, add some crushed red pepper flakes.

Recipe courtesy of Leila Fleita-Zaí

*Dough: Pre-made empanada dough can be found in the frozen section at Twin City Supermarkets and other Latin American food stores. Try the La Salteña brand’s ojaldrada variation for baking or para horno for frying.

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