Mini Beef and Cheese Empanadas

May 13, 2010

Cooking a nice dinner is one of my favorite ways to spend a cold and rainy day.  My problem: what could I make in 2 to 3 hours with 1-1/2lbs of ground beef? The solution: Mini Beef and Cheese Empanadas; a stuffed pastry which was one of my favorite foods in my Latin American travels.

Takes a minimum of 3 hours, but worth every second.

Start by mixing flour, salt, sugar and slightly frozen butter in a food processor. Add water and mix, divide into two parts, then refrigerate the dough for 2 hours.  To make the filling, start by sauteing an onion, adding the spices, and then browning the ground beef. When the beef is no longer pink add beef broth, and let cook until no longer wet (but still moist).  Let the beef mixture cool completely. Finally, roll out the dough into an 18-inch circle and use an inverted cup (with 3-inch diameter) to cut the disks. Fill each with a heaping teaspoon of beef filling, fold over and crimp closed with the tines of a fork. Brush tops with eggs. Bake in two batches at 425-degrees for 20 minutes.

Result: 4-1/2 stars; cute, delicious, bite-sized empanadas.  Next time I might add 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar or 2 tablespoons of minced olives. Also, these would be perfect as appetizers; the recipe really focuses on the make-ahead options.

Problems:

  1. My butter was too frozen and wouldn’t break down. I had to fish it out and microwave it for a minute to soften; but the final crust was no worse for wear.
  2. While the broth was only supposed to take 8 minutes to incorporate, after 12 minutes I still had yellow pools. I realized that this was fat, so used a slotted spoon to leave the extra grease behind.
  3. Dinner was going to be around 8pm, so I rushed the cooling of the meat by using the freezer.
  4. The dough rolled out into and 18-inch circle only yielded 17 to 19 disks (not the desired 24). I had to re-roll some of the scraps.

Recipe Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $4.00 for 42 pastries.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Start time 4:30pm. Dinner time at 7:30pm.


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