Beef Picadillo Empanadas

A version of this Beef Picadillo Empanada recipe first appeared in my food column in Cosmo for Latinas magazine back in 2012. The magazine and its website, unfortunately, closed down a few years ago and all the recipes I wrote for it disappeared along with the magazine.

I was cleaning out some files in my computer and figured I could republish a few of my favorite ones here on the blog for you to try. The version of these beef picadillo empanadas that I'm publishing here is actually a full one that includes a homemade crust. For the magazine, my editor asked me to use store-bought puff pastry crust instead to make it easier and save space so the homemade crust was cut out, but I'm the boss of this website, so here it stays!


That said, you can absolutely just make the meat filling and use puff pastry or pie crust to make the crusts if you're short on time or energy.

The savory meat filling is the best part anyway, right?



Picadillo Beef Empanadas
Makes about 20 small empanadas

Ingredients
For the dough:
1 8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 ½ pounds ground beef
½ pound fresh or frozen butternut squash, diced into ½” cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried oregano
½ cup water
1/3 cup sliced green olives
1/3 cup raisins
½ cup fresh cilantro, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 egg, for the egg wash
salsa, for serving

Directions
Make the dough:
Beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on high until smooth and creamy. Switch mixer to lowest setting and add flour slowly until completely combined. Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour (can be made ahead up to 48 hours).

Prepare the filling:
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook just until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Add the squash, minced garlic, cumin, tomato sauce, oregano, and ½ cup water. Let simmer gently on low heat for about 10 minutes until the squash is tender and liquid has reduced. Stir in the olives, raisins, and cilantro, and season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


To make the empanadas:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and, working with half the dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it is about ¼” thick. Use a round cookie cutter or small upturned bowl to cut out rounds 5” in diameter. Set each round aside on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with rest of dough.

Whisk together egg and 2 tablespoons water to make an egg wash.
Place about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each round. Brush the edges with egg wash, and fold over to close, using a fork to seal edges. Repeat with rest of batch. Brush  empanadas with a coat of egg wash and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately.





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