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Argentinian Beef Empanadas

As a person who enjoys cooking, I love to entertain. Whether it's inviting another couple over for a quiet meal, the neighbors for some yummy dessert, or a full-fledged party, I love cooking for and sharing our home with others. One of my favorite ways to entertain is an appetizers-only party. There's just something so fun about eating snacky foods with a bunch of friends. Now, there are the basic appetizers that typically appear at almost every gathering... buffalo chicken dip, bbq smokey links, crescent roll veggie pizza, chips & queso, spinach dip. Not that these appetizers aren't delicious... (because they are! who hasn't ever eaten their weight in queso?!) But, sometimes I want something a bit more out of the ordinary, more exotic.     On my quest for new appetizers, I stumbled across a recipe for Beef Empanadas. Empanadas are stuffed pastries that are baked or fried, and are popular throughout Western Europe and Latin America. If I could compare empanadas to an American food, they would be pretty similar to Hot Pockets. (Except a million times tastier.) The recipe I'm sharing with you today originates in Argentina. The filling is made up of a mixture of ground beef, onion, green pepper, green olives, and raisins, seasoned with cumin, salt, and pepper. The pastry itself is almost a cross between traditional pie crust and a biscuit. I'll admit, it sounds like a weird combination (raisins + green olives?!), but it worked wonderfully. The tang of the olives paired with the sweet raisins created the perfect balance to the beef filling. Along with the warm, crisp pastry crust, this recipe is definitely a winner. To start, make the filling. Begin by sauteing the green pepper & onion in a bit of olive oil until softened.     Add the ground beef, and cook until browned.     Drain off the excess fat, and add the green olives, raisins, and seasonings. Cook about 5-10 minutes to blend the flavors. Set aside to cool while making and assembling the pastry.     I recommend making the pastry outlined in the recipe below, because it is much fluffier and sturdier than traditional pie pastry. However, if you're in a pinch, a refrigerated pie crust would work just fine!     Once you have the pastry rolled out, use an upside down bowl to cut out circles of dough. The size of your bowl will dictate how large the empanadas are.     Scoop a small bit of filling onto one half of the dough circle, and fold over the edge, pressing to seal. Prick the top with a fork, and pop them in the oven!  

  After about 20-25 minutes, they will be golden brown and ready to devour! Be sure to squirt a bit of lime juice over each empanada before eating; the lime juice really makes the flavors pop.   ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Argentinian Beef Empanadas

Servings/Yield: 16-24 empanadas
  • For the filling
    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
    • 1 large green pepper, finely chopped
    • lbs. ground beef
    • teaspoons cumin
    • 1 cup sliced green olives
    • 1 cup golden raisins
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • teaspoons salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • 1-2 dashes hot sauce, to taste
    • 3 large eggs, separated
  • For the pastry*
    • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
    • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
    • cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
  • lime wedges
  Method For the filling, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & bell pepper and cook 3-4 minutes until softened. Add beef; cook, stirring constantly, until browned. Use a spoon to scoop out the extra liquid. Stir in cumin, olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Cook about 5 more minutes. Set aside to cool. Add 3 egg whites when the mixture is cool. (Save the yolks for later.) For the pastry*, combine flour and salt using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cut butter and cream cheese into cubes; add to flour mixture, and mix on low until the mixture is crumbly and the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in heavy whipping cream and mix on low until the mixture just comes together. Divide into two discs. Preheat oven to 375*F. Roll pastry out on a well-floured surface to about 1/8-inch thickness. (It should be thin, but not transparent.) Use an overturned bowl to cut out circles. Re-roll any scraps. Depending on the size of bowl you use, you will get 16-24 circles. Place circles on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon some filling into one side of the dough circle. Fold the dough over to form a semi-circle; pinch the edges shut to seal the dough. Repeat for all circles. Prick the top of each empanada a few times with a fork. Beat 2 egg yolks (from earlier) with 2 tablespoons water and brush egg wash over empanadas. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve individual portions with lime wedges. (To squeeze over the empanadas.)   *You may use refrigerated pie crust in place of the pastry. Source: from Recipe Girl    

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