Baked Beef Empanadas
Beef empanadas, also known as pati, are made of flour or (hominy) corn. The dough is rolled out thin, cut into round disks, and folded in half in the shape of half-moons. They are usually filled with red or white meat, fish, cheese, or vegetables. They can be baked (as these are) or fried. The crust usually contains some fat, oil, or butter to make it flaky. Empanadas are a traditional dish in Panama, and they are eaten year-round and at any time of day.
For the dough:
- 480 grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) sugar
- 143 grams (3/4 cup) vegetable shortening
- 113 grams (4 ounces/1 stick) butter, frozen and grated while frozen
- 117 ml (3/4 cup) ice-cold water
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) white vinegar
For the filling:
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 green sweet pepper, finely chopped
- 454 grams (1 pound) ground beef
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) tomato paste
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) Maggi sauce
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) Worcestershire sauce
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) Italian seasoning
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) adobo seasoning
- 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dried oregano
- 1.3 ml (1/4 teaspoon) celery salt
- 1.3 ml (1/4 teaspoon) ground cumin
- 1.3 ml ( 1/4 teaspoon) garlic powder
For the egg wash:
- 1 large egg, mixed with 15 ml (1 tablespoon) cool water
- For the dough: Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl. Add shortening into flour mixture and, using a pastry cutter, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add grated butter and combine with a spoon. Slowly add the water and begin kneading until a ball of dough forms. Pat it into two disks, wrap the disks with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour or as long as overnight.
2. For the filling: Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add oil. Add the onion and green peppers and cook until onions are translucent. Remove from skillet. Place ground beef in skillet and cook until no pink is visible. Add cooked onions and green peppers to cooked beef and add remaining ingredients and stir. Turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes to ensure that paste is cooked out. Strain cooked beef until all moisture is removed, and allow to cool.
To shape: Remove disks from the refrigerator 30 minutes before shaping. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8 inch thick. Cot out rounds with a 3½ inch round cutter. Place the rounds on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 20 minutes. If you’re pressed for time, you can skip the chilling process, but the pastry is flakier with it. Gather the scraps of dough and reroll to get a total of 30 circles.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. After chilling the dough, place 1 Tablespoon of filling on each circle. Brush a bit of water on the edges. Fold the circles in half and crimp with a fork to seal. Brush the tops of the empanadas with egg wash.
Bake the empanadas for 15 minutes and then turn the pan and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the empanadas from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature. Place leftovers in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for a couple of days, or freeze for up to a month.
Adding a little vinegar to your dough will result in a tender, pliable, and flaky crust because it slightly inhibits gluten development, leading to a crust that is flakier and easier to work with. The great thing about vinegar is that you really only need a little bit of it to help improve your dough.
For gluten-free empanadas, replace all-purpose flour with 3 cups gluten-free flour blend.
For vegan empanada dough, replace regular butter 1:1 with vegan butter.