Sunday, January 20, 2013

Beef Empanadas

These are truly a labor of love, but the payoff is delicious (also, they freeze well). You could make these with any meat (ie shredded chicken) or even just potatoes or cheese. This uses hot water pastry crust, which rolls out like a dream and holds up well to chunky fillings. The dough I used for these is slightly different than my previous version, so I will post the full recipe.

The yellow pepper paste (ají amarillo) I used adds a very nice medium spicy flavor to the filling. I found it at Sun Foods, and it is probably available at most Latino markets.

Makes 50 6" empanadas

Beef Filling

2-3 lb beef chuck roast
4 medium red potatoes
1/2 c. frozen peas
6 green onions
1c + 2 c. beef bullion
2 packets unflavored gelatine
1/4 c. chopped parsley
1/4 c. aji yellow pepper paste (optional) OR
2 Tbsp. tomato paste + 3 Tbsp. hot water + 1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. black pepper
Optional additions:
Hard boiled egg slices
Black olives

Sear the chuck roast on the edges in hot lard or oil. Add 1 c. beef bullion and pressure cook for 45 minutes. Remove and shred. Place in the fridge while you complete the next steps.

Boil the potatoes in salted water and then cool and peel. Dice into 1/4" cubes.

Slice the green onions into small rounds and add to the beef. Mix in the potatoes, peas, parsley, and spices. Dissolve the gelatine in 2 c. warm beef bullion and stir into the beef mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste. Allow to cool overnight or at least while making the dough (cold filling will load easier).

Hot Water Pastry Dough

9 c. all purpose flour
1 c. lard
4 eggs (reserve 1 yolk for egg wash)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
2+ c. hot tap water

Heat lard in a saucepan until almost smoking. Place the flour in a very large bowl and slowly pour the hot fat over the flour a few tablespoons at a time. Mix in well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. the fat should be hot enough that it sizzles when it hits the flour and browns slightly. Continue pouring in the fat and mixing, until the flour has a granular, sandy texture (some lumps are ok). Once the flour/fat mixture cools enough to touch, beat together the eggs, sugar, and salt. Pour into the flour and mix in well. Mix 2 water and vinegar. Pour the water gradually over the flour and mix until a dough begins to form. Add more hot water as needed to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes at room temperature before using.

To roll out, cut off pieces of dough about the size of a softball. Roll to 1/8" thickness on a floured board. The dough should be elastic enough that it will not stick to the board. Cut into circles using a large biscuit cutter or sharp-edged bowl (tupperware works well). Each handful should make eight or nine 6" rounds. You can re-use the dough from between the circles, but it will make tougher pastries (so I usually throw it out).


Heat the oven to 500 F and line several baking sheets with parchment or tin foil. Beat 1 egg white with 2 Tbsp. milk, 1/2 tsp sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Place ~3 Tbsp. filling on a 6" pastry round. Add egg slices or olives now. Wet the edge of the pastry with water and fold over, ensuring that no filling breaks the seal. Press the edges together gently with your fingers. Crimp the edge with a fork (I used the bumpy edge of a meat pounder). Prick each empanada with a fork.

FREEZER DIRECTIONS: If you are freezing some, place on a flat surface in the freezer until frozen through. When hard, place in a ziploc. To cook, bake frozen pastries according to the directions below, adding 1-2 minutes baking time.

Place on the baking sheet and  bake for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the egg wash mixture. Return to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until a slight amount of filling bubbles through the top holes and the pastry is beautifully golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool slightly and eat! Very good with aji sauce, which is almost identical to cilantro chutney and similar to chimichurri.

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