I know we should be posting amazing tips on how best to brine a turkey, or an out-of-this-world stuffing preparation, or the ultimate pumpkin pie recipe, but we just can’t this year. We’re leaving to travel to Puerto Rico this evening, and therefore we’ll be spending the most important cooking day of the year in someone else’s kitchen – observing, learning, tasting, but not actually cooking. Therefore, in honor of our trip, we present to you a fabulous empanada recipe that will fit quite well into the spirit of our Thanksgiving adventure. We promise to bring back authentic, new recipes, and share them with all of you as soon as we return home.
One of the true joys of living in Miami is the ability to find a variety of hot, authentic, amazingly delicious empanadas at nearly any corner store, grocery store, gas station, or restaurant, usually at any hour of the day or night. An empanada is nothing more than a puff pastry turnover filled with any assortment of yummy ingredients – meats, cheeses, guava, or seafood. Empanadas are either fried or baked; the fried version usually have a slightly thinner pastry shell and the focus of the flavor and texture is on the filling, while the baked variety have a thicker, flaky shell that takes up more of each mouthful. We’re just a little partial to the baked variety, so that’s the type we usually make at home. Plus, frying is just messy and dangerous; the oven is our friend. These empanadas are amazing at a party, as you can fill them with either meat or cheese (for vegetarians), or a combination of both. Before you decide to make these at home, check out the notes below about buying empanada discs; you’ll be happy you did.
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided [480 calories]
½ pound ground beef [560 calories]
½ pound ground spicy sausage [660 calories]
½ red bell pepper, finely diced
½ large red onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ tablespoon paprika
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ cup red wine [50 calories]
½ cup water
2 tablespoons Recaito (you should be able to find it in the ethnic food aisle at the supermarket)
1 tablespoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 eggs [140 calories]
30 – 40 empanada discs for baking, thawed and at room temperature [2900 – 3866 calories]
* You can find empanada shells at most grocery stores in the ethnic food section of the frozen food aisle. Unfortunately, most of the ones that you’ll find are for frying, and these are significantly different than the type for baking. If you want the baked kind, you’ll probably need to visit a Latin American supermarket of some kind. The package may be in Spanish, but look for the word “horno” meaning “oven” on the package. Similarly, most packages contain a picture of a ready-to-eat empanada. If the coating of the empanada in the picture has lots of little air bubbles on it, that’s the frying kind. *
Shredded cheese of your choice (optional – if you want to stretch your meat mixture to make more empanadas, you can make a little bit of cheese into some or all of your empanadas)
Makes 30-40 empanadas (30 if you use your meat sparingly, 40 if you mix your meat with a bit of shredded cheese)
Calories per serving: 155 per empanada (for 30 without cheese)
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high, then add 3 tablespoons of oil. Once oil is nearly smoking, add the ground beef and spicy sausage, then season with 1 tablespoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is browned, about 5 minutes.
While meat is browning, heat a large sauce pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, then add 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, paprika, cumin, and oregano, and sauté until onion is translucent (3-5 minutes). Once vegetables are cooked through, add the browned meat mixture. Sauté on medium-high for a few minutes, stirring to combine well.
Add red wine to deglaze the pan, then add the water and Recaito. Taste, adjust seasoning, and then simmer over medium-high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer to a large work surface.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 large baking sheets with Pam or line with aluminum foil. Flour a clean work surface lightly. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until a smooth egg wash is created. Fill another small bowl with water.
Place one empanada disc on the floured surface, then dip your finger in the water bowl, and run your finger around the edge of the disc to dampen.Using a large soup spoon, place a heaping amount of the meat mixture onto the center of the disc, then spread out evenly across the middle of the disc.
Using your thumb and starting at one corner of the folded disc, roll up the edge a little bit, then repeat, pressing down after each roll to seal the empanada. The end result should be a spiraled edge.
* If you’re really struggling with this, skip the rolling by hand and just seal your empanada tightly by pressing down on the edges with your damp finger. Then, use the tines of a fork to make little impressions in the flat edges for a nice presentation. Traditionally, only fried empanadas have the “forked” edge, while baked empanadas are always rolled by hand into the spiral shape. *
Once empanada is sealed, transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining empanadas. Once all empanadas are prepared, use a pastry brush to coat the top of each empanada with the egg wash. Bake empanadas for 20-23 minutes, or until the tops of the empanadas are nicely browned. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating, as the mixture inside is extremely hot.
This is an original, but most of the credit goes to Frank!