Thursday, April 30, 2015

Beef Empanadas

Hello, everyone!  Happy Thursday!  I just realized today that I have Mexican dishes on the menu through Cinco de Mayo!  Yum!  On Tuesday, I did a post about Mexican inspired chicken chili, today we're talking about beef empanadas, and next Tuesday (Cinco de Mayo!), I'm going to be writing about some pulled pork tamales.  Yes.  Ugh, so good.
Empanadas are so much fun to make!  They can be filled with anything, be sweet or savory, and are great for lunches, supper, or an on the go snack!  Today, I made these up for supper, and served with a salad and some fresh, homemade salsa.  Who doesn't like a little hand pie, filled with deliciousness?  This pie dough is savory, is easy to roll out, and very easy to handle.  It is beautifully flaky and is a perfect fit for this meal!  
Ready to get started?  I know I am!
Here's your grocery list for this one:
For the dough:
2 C All purpose flour
1/3 C shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 C vegetable shortening 
3/4 C warm milk
1 egg, beaten, for the egg wash

For the filling:
1 lb ground beef
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced, or grated
1 Tbs tomato paste
3 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cumin powder
1 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp paprikia
1 C water
1/2 C cheddar cheese

Okay!  Lets get started!  In a medium sized mixing bowl, put in the flour, salt, baking powder, and shredded cheese; mix well.

With your finger tips, gently pinch the vegetable shortening into the flour, until it has been finely incorporated with the flour and cheese mixture, making a well in the center.

Pour the milk into the center of the well, and mix everything together, leaving a sticky dough.  Cover this with a kitchen towel, or some plastic wrap, and set aside to rest while you make your filling, or up to a few hours.

Now, for the filling, brown the ground beef in a skillet, and drain off the fat.  Add in the garlic, and cook over medium high heat, until fragrant; about 30 seconds.  I'm sorry for these blurry camera doesn't like to take pictures from steamy food that is cooking!  It drives me crazy!

After the garlic has become fragrant, add in the tomato paste and seasonings, and mix well, continuing to cook over medium high heat for another couple of minutes.

After everything is well mixed, add in the water, sprinkle with the cheese (don't forget to add the cheese a little bit at a time, like I discussed in my cheesy chicken quesadillas post), and let this cook down until the beef is nearly dry again.  This should take 10-15 minutes.

Okie doke, time to switch gears again, back to the dough!  Place your dough on a well floured work surface, and roll out to about 1/4" thickness, making sure to turn your dough often, to make sure it doesn't stick to your surface.

With a large biscuit cutter, about 3 inches in diameter, cut out as many circles as you can on this dough.  I didn't have a large biscuit cutter, so I just used an upside down tea cup.  Whatever you have that works will work just fine!  Keep cutting the circles out, until you can't fit any more on there.  Then, roll the dough back up into a ball, and roll it back out and repeat the process until there isn't enough dough to roll out again.

As is the case with an egg wash, just crack the egg into a separate bowl, and lightly beat it.

With your finger, use some of the egg wash and moisten half of the circle.  The egg wash will act as a glue, keeping the empanada closed while it bakes.

Using about 1 1/2 tablespoons, scoop out the filling on to the empanada rounds, then fold the circle over onto itself, making sure it is sealed with the egg wash.

Using a fork, crimp the edges of the empanada down, making sure to only halfway press the tines down.  If you smash the fork tines all of the way through the dough, you won't be sealing the empanada, just cutting the dough, and that's not what we want.

While you fix the rest of these up, preheat your oven to 375*, then brush the tops of the empanadas with the rest of the egg wash.  Bake these babies up in about 20 minutes, and are beautifully brown, flaky, and delicious!