My love for savory fillings bound by a crispy flaky crust knows no bounds!
Empanadas…a South American calzone/pasty/meat pie. In other words, a perfect bundle! Recently we had reason to celebrate…Woody was named a Packard Fellow and while this is huge for his science…for me, it was an excuse to cook up something wonderful for a dinner in his honor at a colleague’s home. Empanadas fit the bill…finger food, great warm or room temperature, no-plate-necessary and dipping-sauce-optional – good choice for a crowd and easily transportable!
There are many empanada dough recipe’s available on the interwebs, and to be honest, even pre-made pie crusts from the grocery store work very well for this recipe. We made two separate fillings as there were a few vegetarians who attended the celebration; beef with olives, raisins and eggs and black bean, corn and raisin.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen | Beef Empanadas
Makes 4 dozen mini-empanadas
2 hard-boiled large eggs, chopped into bits
3/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
dash of cayenne
3/4 pound ground beef chuck
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 2 tablespoons juice, and chopped
1 recipe of your favorite savory tart dough…or if you’re in a time crunch – 2 packages of pre-packaged pie crust dough
1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water for egg wash
To start, hard boil at least 2 eggs. I made a double batch for the party so I needed 4 eggs for the recipe and it never hurts to have a few in the fridge to make egg salad in a pinch for lunch. We use Henrietta (the chicken) for cooking our eggs.
She tends to do a decent job and is relatively no hassle. There are plenty of egg cookers out there…but you can get the same results via a multitude of methods. For something different, check out Alton Brown’s baked hard-boiled-eggs. Cool the eggs in an ice-water bath and set aside.
Heat a large skillet on medium high and add the olive oil to the pan. Once hot, add the onions and sweat. There is no need to brown the onions as there is plenty of sweetness in the filling that comes from the raisins. Add the garlic, and once the onions have released a bit of their moisture, turn the heat to high and add the ground beef to brown.
One of my standard practices is to season with salt and pepper at every stage…this will give you the best chance that the finished dish is properly seasoned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the diced canned tomatoes.
Golden raisins may seem an odd addition, but they are a quintessential ingredient for an authentic empanada!
If I made the mini-empanadas again, I would give the raisins a rough chop first as they plump up with the moisture and can overwhelm the flavor a bit.
I happen to LOVE green olives. When I was a tiny person, black olives were one of my absolute favorite vegetables…and although it took me some time to warm up to the green versions…they are now my absolute favorite. I can think of no better pizza topping than chopped green olives!
Add the chopped olives and raisins to the pan and toss them around. Deb at Smitten Kitchen mentioned that the flavor was a bit flat, so I added a few things to enliven the mixture. I started with some smoked paprika.
Add the paprika, cumin, dried oregano, chili powder and a dash of cayenne – while this simmers a bit, peel the hard-boiled eggs.
The egg slicer is another one of our kitchen tools that I love as it makes quick work of dicing the eggs on 3 different planes.
Add the eggs to the beef mixture, and after gauging the moisture content, add some of the reserved tomato liquid.
While that is coming together, roll out your dough (empanada dough, tart dough or pie crust). I rolled it a bit thinner for the mini-empanadas to make sure that the crust didn’t overwhelm the filling. Heat the oven to 400° F.
I cut rounds with the largest round cookie cutter I have and then rolled each round out again to get it to the right size. The beef mixture needs to cool quite a bit before you can scoop it onto the dough rounds.
When making mini’s of anything, efficiency es muy importante! Unless of course you don’t mind pinching empanadas for hours and hours. I snagged a dumpling press (shown below) just before making Pierogies, and I could not have been happier to have it for this project as well.
(image credit: BagelHot)
For the press, place the dough on the open mold, spoon in a teaspoon or so of the filling and then fold to press the edges together. I was a little ambitious with the amount of filling I tried to pack in there, hence the torn spots and seeping edges.
Place on a sheet pan and just before baking, brush with egg wash.
Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes depending on size, remove once they are golden brown and delicious!
Black Bean, Corn & Raisin Empanadas
Adapted from this Recipe.
Makes 2 dozen mini-empanadas
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons adobo seasoning
5-6 scallions, chopped fine
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp. green taco sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sauté onions in a pan with oil and then add black beans, corn, and all seasonings and heat through. Add the raisins and half of the green onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning and then let the mixture cool. Fill the empanadas and bake them in the same manner as described above.
After baking, let cool just enough and serve immediately, or go ahead and let them cool completely and serve room temperature.