This is not one of those things you can throw together after work. This does not take 30 minutes to come together. But even though this is something you have to spend some time in the kitchen making not a single one of the steps are complicated or difficult. And you can even assemble the empanadas completely and let them rest in the refrigerator and cook them off when you need them. And even though this is a dish that requires a little bit of time and dedication in the kitchen it is 100% worth it. Golden, rich, buttery dough filled with browned beef, sweet onions and herbs all in a neat little package you can hold in your hands. Quick and convenient is always nice, but some times good food takes a little more effort.
And after that effort you should most definitely reward yourself with a glass of wine. These empanadas cry out for a Pinot Noir, one with big bright cherry fruit that can stand up to the rich beef and buttery dough but with notes of that classic Pinot Noir earthiness that brings out the savory herbs and the sweet earth of the onions.
Adapted from Saveur: The New Comfort Food
- 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt + more to taste
- 3 cups flour + more for dusting
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ pound ground beef
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ tablespoon paprika
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 scallions, white and green parts separated and both minced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Canola oil for frying
To make the dough: combine the shortening, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 cup of water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into a large bowl to cool to room temperature. Once the mixture is no longer hot add the 3 cups of flour and stir until a dough forms. Knead the dough into two halves, flatten these halves into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
To make the filling melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the beef and cook until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the beef to a bowl and add the other 2 tablespoons butter to the pan if it needs it. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about another 10 minutes. Then stir in the spices: cumin, paprika and coriander, as well as the white parts of the scallion and cook for another 2 minutes. Finally, add the oregano and the green part of the scallion, season with salt and black pepper and stir to combine everything. Transfer to the bowl with the beef and mix to incorporate.
Assemble the empanadas by rolling out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about a 1/8-inch thickness. Take a 5-inch biscuit cutter, or bowl, and cut out 5-inch circles of dough. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto one side of the dough, then with a small brush wet the edge of the dough with water. Pull the other side of the dough over the top of the filling and crimp the two edges together with a fork. Repeat this with the remaining dough, reforming and rerolling it as you need until you have created all the empanadas. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
To cook the empanadas preheat the oven to 200°F and heat the oil in a deep fryer to 375°F. Cook the empanadas in the fryer for 3-4 minutes, turning halfway through. Place the cooked empanadas on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until you have finished cooking the rest.