Savory Beef Empanadas

Empanadas are a savory treat that have been a favorite of mine since I was a young girl. My mother would make them often, as a midday snack or sometimes for dinner, filling them with chicken, beef, seafood or cheese. I usually preferred a combination of beef and cheese, biting into the flaky crust while it was still hot, then watching the cheese ooze out.

For those of you not familiar with empanadas, they’re basically turnovers filled with meat. In some Latin American countries, they’re often referred to as pastelitos. I grew up calling them empanadas, so that’s what I continue to call them! They make a great appetizer, snack or side dish. Many people make their own dough, but there are so many great, pre-made doughs out there that I save myself the time and purchase Goya Discos. Empanadas are also a great way to use up any leftover meat — shredded chicken, ground beef, pork — the possibilities are endless! Give this recipe a try. I guarantee your mouth will water at the sight of these flaky turnovers packed with flavor.

Savory Beef Empanadas Over Moros y Cristianos

Beef Empanadas

Beef Turnovers

What You’ll Need:

1 cup picadillo
1 14-oz package Goya Discos, thawed
vegetable oil, for frying

On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll out each disco until about 1/2″ larger in diameter. Place 1 tablespoon picadillo in the center of each disco. Moisten the edge with water, then fold the disc in half, using a fork to crimp the edges and seal it.

Fill a deep frying pan with 2 inches of oil, then heat over medium-high heat. Fry the empanadas until golden brown, turning only once. Make sure not to crowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop, resulting in greasy empanadas. Fry in batches, if necessary. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain. Serve hot. Pairs well with moros y cristianos.

Note: These empanadas can also be baked, if preferred. After assembling each empanada, brush the tops with an egg and water mixture. Bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Cheap Eats: Picadillo

Every culture has their own cheap eats. You know, foods that are inexpensive, yet delicious. Picadillo is definitely a cheap eat. For those of you who have never heard of it, picadillo is a beef hash traditional to many Latin American countries. The name comes from the Spanish word “picar,” which means to chop.

Picadillo is an extremely versatile dish. Growing up, I remember my Abuela serving it with white rice, black beans, a fresh salad and lots of Cuban bread. Picadillo can also be used to fill tacos or savory empanadas. Topped with sweet plaintains, it becomes the base for a Tambor de Picadillo y Platano.

I prefer to use ground chuck for my picadillo, which gives a good beef to fat ratio. Fat not only adds flavor, but also ensures your meat isn’t dry. If you’re a little more health conscious, feel free to use a leaner cut. Ground round is 85 to 90 percent lean; ground sirloin only contains 8 to 10 percent fat.

When you try picadillo for the first time, you’ll marvel at how such a simple dish can taste so good. This is comfort food at its best.

Picadillo

A recipe from my childhood

What You’ll Need:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef, preferably chuck
2 packets Sazon Goya
1/2 cup tomato sauce (Recommended: Goya Tomato Sauce with Onion, Cilantro & Garlic)
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over low heat, then add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions and pepper have softened. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the ground beef to the pan, using a wooden spoon to break apart any large chunks. Season with Goya Sazon. Cook the beef until brown, about 10 minutes. Drain off the excess fat.

Add the tomato sauce and red wine to the pan, gently stirring to combine all the ingredients and make sure the beef is well coated. Let simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, allowing the sauce to reduce . Add the chopped olives. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve hot. Goes great with rice and beans. Enjoy!