Beef Empanadas

A Hot Pocket I'm Not Ashamed Of

One of my favorite fellow foodies is Pamela Arriagada (the Cooking Astronomer), a colleague of mine at the Carnegie Institution for Science.  Despite being an astronomer on campus, our conversations always transition to food during the work day. Pamela is from Chile and has treated us more than once to traditional empanadas from her father's recipe.  Since she is now embarking on a new adventure with her husband in Seattle, I asked her to come show me the ropes so I could keep the empanada tradition alive, and keep my hangry boyfriend happy :)

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Beef Empanadas

Hangry Timer: 3 Hours
Feeds: 14
Cost: $10


What You Need:

7 Cups Flour
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces
1 Egg
1/2 Lemon, Juiced
1 Cup Ice Water, more if needed

1 lb. Stew Meat, cut into small pieces
4 Yellow Onions, brunoise*
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Paprika
2 Tbsp. Cumin
Fresh Parsley, chopped
7 Eggs, hard boiled and cut into four wedges
Black Olives
Raisins, soaked in hot water
Egg Wash (one egg and a splash of water, scrambled)

What to do with it:

Mix flour, salt and butter together with your fingers, pastry cutter or food processor until the consistency is like sand.**  Knead in egg, lemon and water until the dough is sticky.  The dough should not be crumbly.  Add more water if necessary.  Form the dough into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for an hour, while you make the filling.

In a dutch oven, or heavy bottom pot with a lid, sauté onions over medium heat in olive oil until caramelized.  This will take up to 20 minutes.  You will want to cook them low and slow until the onions just begin to stick to the bottom and turn a light caramel color.  Add salt and pepper to the onions as they cook.***

Once the onions are caramelized, add the beef, paprika, cumin and more salt and pepper. Stir until the beef and onions are coated in the spices and the beef is slightly browned.  Cover and reduce the heat to low and cook for one hour.   While the meat cooks, boil the eggs.  After one hour, add parsley and taste for seasoning. 

Assembling The Empanadas

Preheat oven to 400º.

Cut the dough ball in half, and then cut out seven equal chunks from each half.  Roll each chunk into a ball with your hands.  Using a rolling pin (or wine bottle haha), roll out each ball into a 1/16" thick circle, using flour to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.

Spoon one heaping tablespoon of meat filling into the center, add one olive, some raisins and one egg slice on top of the meat.  Using your fingers, rub the edge of the circle with water and fold the edges of the empanada together, creating a half circle.  Fold the edges in to create a rectangle, or twist up the edges to keep it as a half circle.  Just make sure to pinch the dough at the intersections to keep the pastry sealed.

Once the empanadas are assembled, brush the tops of them with egg wash and sprinkle with salt.  Pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes, until they are nice and golden-brown.

Let them cool on a wire rack for approximately five minutes. 

Comer! (that means eat in Spanish, silly)

I like to eat mine with a dash of hot sauce inside!



Hangry District Tips:
*Brunoise means to cut into tiny cubes - 1/8" to be exact. Just dice it up small, it will be fine.
**Sand is a technical term, haha. Think really soft and fluffy white sand.

***As I've said before - season every layer! Never forget!
****My cost approximations are based on what I have to buy that isn't already typically in my pantry.  All I had to buy for this recipe was the meat, which was $7.


Photos courtesy of me and Pamela Arriagada. For more photos from Pamela, click here.