Friday, September 7, 2012

Beef Empanadas

             Empanadas are found all over Latin America and Spain.  The name comes from the Spanish verb empanar, which means to wrap in bread.  It's thought that the empanada originated in Spain.  Food wrapped in a dough was an easy way for workers to carry their meals.

            Different regions in Spain and Latin America have different ways of creating fillings for empanadas based on what types of food sources they have.  They can be prepared with cheese, beef, chicken, fish, fruit, etc.

            Today I made an empanada with a beef filling.  I prepared my own crust.  It was really easy with a food processor.  I think it took a total of 5 minutes from gathering the ingredients and turning the on button on the food processor.  Seeing how easy it was,  I would totally do it again.  You don't need to buy store bought dough, believe me.   

            I went with more of an Argentinian style empanada minus olives.  I didn't have any at hand because I really don't like olives that much.  If you like olives, by all means add them in.

  1. 1 lb ground beef.  (I used 92% fat free)
  2. 2 eggs (1 needs to be hard boiled)
  3. 1 onion
  4. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  5. 4 Tbl craisins (you can use raisins)
  6. 3 Tbl tomato paste
  7. 7 oz tomato puree
  8. 1 Tbl red wine vinegar
  9. 1 tsp oregano
  10. 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  11. 1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
I would actually recommend making the pastry dough first because it is so quick and it needs an hour to chill after it is made.

Ingredients for pastry (from Epicurious)
  1. 2 1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 tsp salt
  3. 1 stick of butter, chilled and cut in pieces
  4. 1/3 Cup of ice water
  5. 1 egg
  6. 1 Tbl vinegar
Use your food processor for this.

First add your flour and salt to the processor and pulse to mix.

Then add your chilled butter slices.  Pulse to combine.  The mixture will look like a course meal.

Now beat your egg with a fork in a small bowl.  Add the ice water and vinegar to the bowl and mix.

Add the egg mixture to the food processor.  Now pulse to mix.  The dough should start to come together.  Keep letting it process.  The dough should start rolling itself into a ball.  When it forms the ball, it's done.  That's it!  Five minute dough. 
Just gather the dough out of the food processor, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place in the fridge to chill for one hour.

For the filling.  First start boiling your egg.  It needs to be hard boiled.  So set your timer, and go on to the next step.
Prepare your baking tray next.  I lined mine with aluminum foil and brushed olive oil on the bottom.

Chop your onion and garlic, and saute them in a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. 

 Saute your ground beef until it is fully cooked.  Then drain the fat.
Add your craisins, or raisins to the onions and beef.  I actually put the onions with the craisins in the food processor so that the craisin flavor might distribute itself throughout the filling.  This step can be skipped.
 Now add the beef, onions with the craisins together.

 Add your tomato paste, tomato puree, vinegar, and spices to the meat.  Let this cook for just a few minutes.  You do not want the juices totally evaporating.
Chop your hard boiled egg and add it to the meat.

Now put the meat in the fridge while you prepare the dough.

Working in batches if you do not have a lot of counter space, roll out the dough to 1/8 of an inch thick.  The dough is not very sticky and should roll easily.
 You will want a 6 inch circle for a full size empanada.  I used a bowl to make my circle.  I made an impression in the dough and then took a sharp knife to cut it out.

Then place about 2-3 tablespoons of filling in the middle of the circle.
Fold one end of the dough to the other end and pinch down the edges.
Then use a fork to seal the edge.

 Place all of your empanadas on the prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil.  Then place the empanadas in a 425F oven.

After 10 minutes you will want to brush the top of the empanadas with 1 beaten egg.
It took 22 minutes for my empanadas to turn golden brown, but they could brown as easily after 15 minutes depending on your oven.  So keep a watch on them.

I served these with a chimichurri style sauce.
If you want to make this the ingredients are:
  1. 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
  2. 1/2 Cup onion, chopped 
  3. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup olive oil
Simply mix all of these ingredients together and refrigerate to let the flavors meld.

Here are what the finished empanadas look like.  The crust is just so flaky, and I am thinking of using it for an empanada apple pie.

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