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Jim Coleman Recipes

Ground Beef and Tomato Empanadas

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, chopped
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  • 8 ounces ground beef chuck, preferably 70/30
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup chopped Spanish olives stuffed with pimientos (about 16 large olives)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Empanada Dough or ten 5-inch store-bought empanada shells
  • Canola oil, for shallow-frying

Photo Credit: empanadas for dinner by blmurch from flickr.com

1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over low heat.

2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 10 minutes.

3. Add the scallions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the ground beef, and cook, stirring frequently, until the lumps of beef are broken up and the meat is browned.

4. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the oregano, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon and cook just until the spices are fragrant.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the raisins, olives, and pepper to taste. You'll have about 2 cups.

6. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate, preferably overnight. (You want the juices to coagulate so the filling can easily be scooped and will hold together in the center of the empanadas.)

7. Roll out homemade dough N inch thick. Cut out ten 3-inch circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter (or a glass) or lay out store-bought shells on the surface. To fill the empanadas, lightly flour your work surface. Lay out a circle of empanada dough and place a rounded tablespoonful of the filling off-center.

8. Brush the edges of the dough with water, fold the circle in half, and seal, pressing down with the back of a fork. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Pour about 1 inch canola oil into a wide deep heavy skillet and heat over medium heat to 350*F.

9. Line a large plate with paper towels. Add the empanadas, a few at a time, to the hot oil and cook until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the empanadas to the paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Be sure to let the oil return to 350*F between batches. Serve hot.


I've always thought of empanada dough as the Latin counterpart to puff pastry: flaky and delicate, yet strong enough to hold a fair amount of filling without soaking through or breaking. Like puff pastry, high-quality empanada dough can now be purchased readymade. If possible, choose the muy hojaldrosa ("very flaky") style, which is the closest in character to puff pastry. It makes for the most refined, elegant empanadas, although regular-style dough is also perfectly acceptable - and no doubt more familiar to those who have eaten empanadas at Latin cafes and restaurants. Look for empanada dough in Latin markets and well-stocked gourmet stores, or order it at www.gauchogourmet.com.

For the dough you will need:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup dry sherry

1. Put the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the vegetable shortening, pulsing as you do so, and pulse just until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

2. Add the egg, pulse, and pulse as you add the sherry 2 tablespoons at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. It will be soft and elastic.

3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let sit for 25 to 35 minutes, or up to 24 hours. If you choose to refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature before making empanadas.

4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of N inch. Cut into 5-inch circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter (or a glass).


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