Continuing with our theme of party foods, I bring you this scrumptious packet of goodness, the empanada. This little morsel must definitely find its way to your next party platter. It’s yummy, it’s fun, it’s easy to put together, and best of all, it’s another do-ahead hor d’oeuvre that makes your life so much happier come party time.
The empanada is a little meat pie that’s traditional to many Mexican and Latino cultures. We must thank them for coming up with such a lovely, delicious and fun finger food. While there are a million ways to fill an empanada (sweet or savory), this one here seems to be a very common version. I’ve read several recipes and came up with what I think is a wondrously fine combination of flavors and textures.
For the crust you can make your favorite pie crust or buy a pie crust; I find you can get about 9 (4”) empanadas out of a 9” crust. After you roll out your dough to about 11 or 12 inches round, you can use just about anything you have on hand to cut out your little empanada circles. I used a lid from a wide-mouth canning jar. If you have a 4” biscuit cutter, then you have a better-stocked kitchen that me and will have an easy time of it.
The filling in this recipe will probably make about a bazillion empanadas, so feel free to cut it in half or just freeze what you don’t use for future empanadas. After you have the filling made, just put a small spoon of it down the center of your circle, moisten the edges, fold, seal and crimp with a fork. Once you start, it goes pretty fast. Place on a greased baking sheet and then brush with a little egg wash before baking.
You can top the filling with a little grated cheese before folding the pastry if you wish. I did half of mine with cheese and half without, and liked them equally much and well :)
So there you are, folks! Little empanadas for your next party. Make them now, freeze them, and you will be so happy with yourself when the next party rolls around.
This is not a traditional crust recipe as it does not contain eggs or dairy, although the filling is more traditional. There are as many empanada recipes as there are chefs and home cooks; this just happens to be our favorite way to make them. We love the flaky crust and think you may too.
(2) 9” pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, but not too lean)
1 potato, diced into small cubes and boiled until soft
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup chopped small green manzanilla olives
½ cup beef, chicken or veg broth
½ cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp cayenne powder (or to taste)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
Grated jack and cheddar cheese (optional)
1 egg, beaten with a tsp of water
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Sauté the onions and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until softened. Add the seasonings (chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt and oregano) and sauté until very fragrant.
Add the ground meat and begin to brown. When the meat is cooked through, add in the broth, green olives, and tomato sauce, and bring to a simmer.
Let the liquid reduce until it's almost gone. Fold in the potatoes, stir to combine well and take off the heat. Cover and set aside while you prepare the pastry.
Roll out your pastry dough until it is just a little thinner than you might use for a pie crust. Using a 4” biscuit cutter or any round implement, cut your dough into as many circles as you can.
Place filling by the spoonful into your empanada dough (top with a little cheese if using). Moisten the edge with a little water on your finger and fold the pastry into a half-moon shape over the filling. Pinch the edges to seal tightly, and then use a fork to crimp the edge.
Place on a greased baking sheet (or use parchment paper). Before placing in the oven, brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until light golden brown.
Serve warm or let them cool completely before freezing. Makes about 18 empanadas.