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Beef Empanadas

Eight beef empanadas on a rectangular platter with a bowl of relish on the side.
Beef empanadas are hand-held delights full of South American flavor—sweet raisins, salty green olives, tangy tomato, and rich beef, all wrapped up in a flaky pastry wrapper. Continental, indeed.
Barbara Scott-Goodman

Prep 50 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 1 hr 50 mins
Appetizer
Latin
24 empanadas
135 kcal

Ingredients 

For the dough

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter cold, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar

For the filling

  • 1 tablespoon peanut, corn, or canola oil
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 pound ground or minced beef
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped, pitted green olives
  • 1/2 tablespoon store-bought or homemade tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium store-bought chicken broth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Corn or canola oil for frying

Directions 

Make the dough

  • Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  • Lightly beat the eggs with the water and vinegar until combined. Drizzle this over the flour mixture and pulse until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.

Make the filling

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the beef and cook, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until no trace of pink remains, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess grease. Add the raisins, olives, and tomato paste and stir well. Add the stock or broth and simmer until the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Assemble the empanadas

  • Roll the dough on a generously floured work surface until it's about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into 3-inch rounds with a floured biscuit cutter or glass, stamping out as many rounds as possible. Roll out any dough scraps and cut out additional rounds if possible. Brush any excess flour from the dough rounds.
  • Working with 1 round at a time and keeping the rest covered with plastic wrap, spoon about 2 teaspoons filling on one side of the dough round. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and crimp the edges with a fork to seal. Cover with plastic wrap while you form the remaining empanadas. [The filled, uncooked empanadas can be frozen on a baking sheet, and stored in an airtight plastic bag or container for up to a month. You’ll need to bake the unthawed empanadas, rather than fry them, in a 350°F (176°C) oven for 20 to 25 minutes.]
  • Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Pour enough oil into a deep-sided pot to reach a depth of about 1/2 inch and heat until it registers about 325°F (163°C) on a deep-fry or candy thermometer.
  • Fry the empanadas in small batches, turning them once, until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Move the empanadas to paper towels or a brown paper bag to drain for a few moments, and then transfer to a baking sheet. Place the fried empanadas in the oven to keep warm while you fry the remaining empanadas. Serve at once.