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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beef Empanadas

 Mmm. I have very distinct memories of my first beef empanadas. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what they were. I was 15 years old and in Florida with my very best friend and her family, just spending the night before hopping on a cruise ship the next day. We went to a Cuban restaurant for dinner, and these are the only thing I remember eating. And I remember they were AWESOME.

For some reason it's taken me 7 years to try making them myself.

I didn't get too picky looking for a Cuban recipe or anything, I just took the first recipe I came across. It tastes absolutely nothing like my first experience with them, but still really, really good.

 This is the dough. It takes all of five minutes to throw together. Then you just roll it out and use whatever you have handy to cut it into circles. I used a rubbermaid container with unusually sharp edges. Yay!

 This is some ground beef that's I've already seasoned. Sorry there is such a tiny amount of meat. It's just because I only wanted to make one or two servings because leftovers don't have very good luck in this house.

 This is the secret ingredient in the seasoning. I actually used a whole bunch of onion and some taco seasoning in addition to this, because the recipe called for it, but I think next time I would just use more of these tomatoes. Pureed first, of course, because I loathe tomato chunks.

 Whatever your seasoning decision, you just plop little bits of the filling onto each circle of dough.

 Then use a fork to seal the edges, and stick them in the oven! I love how cute they are, and how badly I wanted to eat the whole pan. Thankfully, my husband LOVED these and finished them off before I came back for seconds. That's REALLY GOOD NEWS in this house!

I especially like how they puff and how this little one almost looks like it doesn't have a seam at all! How very professional-looking!

I take pride in my food. Even if it's hardly worthy. Dear food, I love you!

And that's it! We had these for lunch, but I'm pretty sure they're supposed to be an appetizer or something. Or we could make oversized ones and eat them for dinner! With a vegetable of course.

Beef Empanadas
Yield: 38
Time: 10 minutes for dough // 15 minutes for filling // 20 minutes baking // TOTAL: 45 minutes

2 cups All-purpose Flour
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
3/4 cup Milk, warmed slightly
1 egg, beaten (for brushing the dough)

1 pound Ground Beef
salt, pepper, and/or seasoning salt
1 can Tex-Mex style Canned Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese

  1. Start browning the ground beef with your desired amounts of salt and pepper. When it's just about done, dump in the can of tomatoes and let it simmer while you make the dough
  2. In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients (including cheese) for the dough
  3. Add the shortening and pulse until crumbly
  4. Slowly poor in the warm milk and pulse to combine
  5. Dump onto the counter form a smooth ball, adding enough flour to keep it from being sticky. 
  6. Divide the dough into four balls and work with one at a time, keeping the others covered so they don't dry out
  7. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut circles that are about 3 inches in diameter
  8. Cut circles from all of the dough, re-rolling the scraps to get as many as possible
  9. Preheat oven to 375 F
  10. Add enough meat filling to cover half of the circle of dough, leaving a good 1/4 or 1/2 inch around the edge to seal
  11. Top with a small amount of shredded cheese
  12. Fold the top half over the filling and use a fork to press closed
  13. Arrange on a couple of baking sheets and brush with egg wash
  14. Bake for 18-20 minutes (they will puff slightly and be nice a golden)

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