Sunday, March 24, 2013

Argentine Beef Empanadas

Yummy yummy yummy.  These are the second kind of empanadas that I made today (see the post for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas for the other recipe).  These are some tasty little morsels. 

They are classic Argentine beef empanadas, with green olives stuffed with pimento and yellow raisins in the filling, along with some cumin, honey, and hot sauce, making for a wonderful burst of sweet and spicy flavors.

 It's like a party in your mouth! WOW yes I did say party in your mouth... (i'm clearly a little off after rolling, filling, folding, crimping, OK?!).  Anyways...

The dough for these is a little intense on the calorie scale... it has 8 oz of cream cheese, 2 sticks of butter, and half a cup of heavy cream...

Yowzah!.. like I said... it is a bit much.  It makes for a very flaky delicious dough... and it rolls out beautifully...

However, you could use a lighter dough recipe and I may next time... (see dough for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas).

In any event, these were worth the time and effort.  One note is that this recipe makes WAY MORE than 26 to 28 as the recipe suggests.  I made 46 before I ran out of dough, and still had quite a bit of filling left over... So beware and consider scaling down the filling by 1/3 if you want. I froze the leftover filling and will make more of these when we run through the 46 that are already in the freezer!

Classic Argentine Beef Empanadas
From (and adapted from Mad Hungry via Serious Eats)

Makes about 45 appetizer size empanadas

1 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (use 85% lean, not the super-lean)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup pimento-filled green olives, sliced
1 cup golden raisins
2 tsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
several dashes of hot sauce, to taste
3 large eggs, separated

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, at room temperature (don’t use low fat)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
1 tsp. kosher salt
lime wedges, for serving

Prepare the filling: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion & bell pepper and sauté 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Raise heat to high and add beef. Cook, stirring constantly, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop out some of the liquid; discard. Stir in cumin, olives, raisins, honey, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Cook until the meat is golden brown, liquid has evaporated and flavors have blended, about 4 more minutes. Cool completely in the refrigerator. Stir in 3 egg whites when mixture is cool.

Prepare pastry: Process butter, cream cheese and cream in a food processor or electric mixer. Add flour and salt and mix just until combined and dough holds together in a ball. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Divide into three pieces. Flatten into disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out. If the dough is chilled overnight, take it out for about 15 minutes before rolling out.
Dust a rolling pin with flour. Working with one dough disk at a time, place the disk on a clean, well-floured surface (I use a silpat mat). Roll gently from the center of the dough to the top and bottom edges and from side to side. Reflour the work surface and/or rolling pin, as needed. You want the dough to be thin but not transparent. 

Assembly: Use a 3 to 4 inch cookie cutter to cut out circles. Gather scraps together, re-roll and cut more circles until you’ve used up all the dough. Scoop some filling into the center of the dough circle (about 1 Tbsp.).  Wet the edge of the dough with water, using your finger to to rub. Fold the dough over to form a half-circle. Crimp edges with a fork, or fold over decoratively (using more water, as needed, to act as ‘glue.’) Repeat the process until all of the filling is used.

The empanadas can be frozen at this point, or placed onto a greased baking sheet. If baking right away, chill the filled empanadas for a few minutes. Prick the top of each empanada twice with a fork. Beat 2 egg yolks with 2 Tbsp. water and brush egg wash over each empanada. Bake 20 to 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until golden brown.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve warm with lime wedges.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

I am hosting my monthly ladies' night this week and decided the theme should be Spanish tapas...  so today I made 86 empanadas (yes, 86).  OK so I did not mean to make that many.  I am not a lunatic (only borderline people!).  Here's what happened.  I made two kinds: these vegetarian sweet potato and black bean ones, and Argentine Beef Empanadas recipe.  This particularly recipe said it made 10, so I one-and-a-halved the recipe, figuring 15 was a good number, and then realized this made 15 large empanadas... and I wanted smaller guys -- empanadillas really -- so, um, yeah, I ended up with 40 of these little guys.  

 It was a lot of work but they are really really yummy.  The good news is they freeze well!

These have sweet potato, roasted pablano, black beans, cilantro, green onion, cumin, and have a wonderful flavor.  

The dough that this recipe calls for is much lighter than the one I used for the beef empanada and was really good and fairly easy to work with.  It has canola oil, water, egg, cider vinegar, and flour, whereas the one I made for the beef empanadas is much heavier, with butter, cream cheese, and heavy cream.  I am not sure the high fat content is necessary, although it did make for a very flaky crust.  This is less flaky, but also less guilty!  


The only change I would make next time is just to roll out half the dough and cut out circles, rather than separting the dough into balls ahead of time, as the recipe suggests.  Separating first might be easier if you are making large empanadas, although I found it difficult to roll the dough out and end up with a shape that was circular... mine were all lopsided and funny looking.  So I ended up rolling out the dough and cutting out 3 inch circles (4 inch would be even easier to work with!)

OK here's how you make these delicious party empanadas.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas
adapted from Cooking Light, December 2010

(makes 10 large empanadas, or about 26-28 small empanadillas)



9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 large egg, lightly beaten


1 poblano chili
1 Tbs. cumin seeds, toasted in a skillet and ground  (I was lazy and just used 1 Tbs. ground cumin -- it worked fine)
1 cup mashed, cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. ancho chili powder (I used red chili powder)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For Assembly:

1 egg white, lightly beaten


For Dough: combine flour and salt in large bowl and whisk to blend.  Combine canola oil, water, vinegar and egg in a medium bowl.  Gradually add oil mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.  Knead lightly until smooth.  Shape dough into two balls, flatten into disks, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

For Filling:  Roast poblano under a boiler, or over an open flame, turning until blackened all over.  Place in a paper bag; close tightly and let stand 15 minutes.  Peel chile and cut in half lengthwise.  Discard seeds and membranes.  Finely chop.   Put in a bowl with other filling ingredients and mash with a fork until combined.

Assembly:  Place one disk of dough on a floured surface and using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out from the center, turn a quarter turn and roll again, repeating until dough is thin, but not transparent.  Cut 3 inch circles (5 inches for large empanadas).  Place 1 tsp. filling (2-3 Tbs if making large empanadas) in the center of each circle.  Wet the edges of the circle with the lightly beaten egg white and fold dough over filling.  Press edges together to seal and use a fork or your fingers to decoratively crimp edges.  Cut two or three diagonal slits across the top of each empanada.  Place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degree for about 16 minutes, until lightly browned.

Preparing ahead: To freeze, place empanadas in a single layer on a baking sheet in the freezer for about 1 hour.  Transfer to a sealable freezer bag and store up to 1 month.  To bake, place frozen empanadas directly on the baking sheet and into the preheated oven.  Add about 10 minutes to the baking time. 


Sweet potato and black bean chili... because winter will not end

Well since winter just will NOT GO AWAY, we have been having more chili... and fires... and cuddling up more in our blankets. 

poor betsi.  Look at her express another emotion...


(yawn) (winter is soooo boring!! can't we do something else?!).  They are too cute. 

Anyways, back to chili.  This vegetarian (and vegan) chili has sweet potatoes, black beans, chipotle chilies in adobo and is so delicious.  I love the sweetness of the sweet potato and honey against the heat of the chipotle chili.  It rocks my socks off. (not sure why I just said that...) but uh, yeah, it's pretty tasty.  And simple and fast too -- I have made it after work in time for dinner, no problemo.


1 Tbs. grapeseed oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo from a can, plus some of the sauce
2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 carrots
1 very large sweet potato, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 cans black beans
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
stock or water
maple syrup to taste
salt to taste


Heat grapeseed oil in large heavy pot (dutch oven is perfect) over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until transparent and soft, about 5 minutes.   Add garlic, saute 1 minute.  Add next 4 ingredients (chipotles, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon) and cook, stirring, until fragrant (1 or 2 minutes).  Add carrots, sweet potatoes and stir to combine, and then add balck beans, tomatoes, and stock or water to cover.  Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Add maple syrup and salt to taste.

Serve with your favorite toppings.  We had it with sour cream, jalepeno slices, green onion, and sliced avacado.   Yummy!