Spicy Beef Empanadas are so delicious that it is hard to eat just one. I try never to do that! How ridiculous would it be to only eat one?
I checked Wikipedia to satisfy my curiosity about this particular meat pie and learned that Empanadas trace their origins to Spain, Portugal and León. They first appeared in medieval Iberia during the time of the Moorish invasions. A cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, the Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola, mentions empanadas filled with seafood among its recipes of Catalan, Italian, French, and Arabian food!
It is not hard to see why they have survived for so long. Who does not like flaky dough-filled hand pies with spicy meat?!?
Cilantro, poblano and jalapenos are the beginning of a wonderful marriage of flavors.
I love Poblano and Anaheim chilies. To skin them I fire up the propane torch and blister the skin. It comes off easily under cool water with a little scrubbing. And it makes feel so manly to burn a pepper!
I started with a basic Empanada recipe and added a few additional flavors to spice it up a bit and round out the richness.
The dough is buttery and flaky and the perfect compliment to the beautiful multicolored filling.
Make the dough first, as it has to chill.
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chilled shortening, cut into cubes
4 tablespoons chilled butter cut in to cubes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon icy cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
In the food processor bowl or a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, shortening and butter. Pulse the food processor, or use a pastry cutter with the bowl, until the mixtures looks sandy and there are pea-sized pieces of butter remaining.
In a separate bowl combine egg, water and vinegar and whisk to blend well. Drizzle this mixture over the flour and pulse or stir with a fork until just blended. Knead gently a few times on a floured surface to bring the dough together. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
My little pies are far from perfect but I love the rustic, hand-formed look of them. Is that an excuse? Of course!! Haha.
About the filing recipe – I make more filing than I need for the dough. Why? Because it is so delicious that I have enough leftovers for incredible burritos, tacos or even as the base for a chili by adding beans and more tomatoes. Yay! It freezes well so I have the beginnings of dinner for another night.
Spicy Beef Empanadas
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
1 – 2 jalapeno peppers minced, add a few seeds if you like it hotter. Using one of these peppers does not make it very spicy so throw in the other one!
2 large poblano peppers, halved and seeded then sliced thin (if you prefer to peel your pepper hold it over a flame until the skin blisters then rub it under cold water.
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic
14 ounce can of diced canned tomatoes drained and chopped into smaller pieces (reserve the liquid for future soup or sauce).
1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped – at least 1 1/2 cups.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until hot and add the chopped onions. Cook at fairly high heat until they start to brown, keep the heat high and toss in the peppers. Give them a stir with the onions and add a shake of salt. Let them brown and don’t stir for another 2 – 3 minutes.
Push the peppers and onions to one side of the pan and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Keep the pan on medium high to high heat and when the oil is hot add the ground beef a little at a time in small bunches. Press down on the beef to spread it out on the hot oil.
Do not stir! If the pan cools down all the juices will leave the meat and it will get that gray look. Keep adding the beef in small bits until it’s all in the pan and sizzling like crazy. Sprinkle with salt. When the side down is nice and browned turn and brown the other side. If the pan cools down too much turn it up. Keep the other veggies off to the side even if you have to move the pan askew a bit.
Do not be tempted to stir. 🙂
Once the meat is browned on both sides stir the veggies into the meat and add the salt, cumin, garlic and the canned tomatoes and cilantro. Reduce heat to medium high and cook until the meat is done – about 8 minutes or so. Remove from heat, allow to cool about 20 minutes or so.
Forming the Epanadas
Divide the dough into 12 equal balls. On a floured service flatten each ball in to a disk and the use a rolling pin to to make 4 1/2 inch circles. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the filling onto into the circle, fold over to a half-moon shape and use a little water to help seal the edges. Crimp edges with a fork and cut 2 small slits in the top.
Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. They spread out a little but not much. Bake until golden brown, 15 – 20 minutes. Cool on a rack until you cannot wait any longer.
Now eat one, or more.