Chilli Beef Empanadas

I sat down to type out the recipe for Chilli Beef Empanadas, to describe how buttery and flaky the pastry that encrusts the spicy beef filling is, how the gooey cheese amplifies the flavour, but I had to take an Empanada break before I could even start. These baked Empanadas are mouth-watering good. Enough to make you get off your comfortable warm couch, walk across an icy floor to the kitchen and gobble up that last piece because you can’t take it off your mind.

The key to a good Empanada is a soft, flaky pastry. As daunting as the task of making Empanada pastry from scratch may sound, I will be sharing one of the easiest failproof dough recipes out there. Follow the notes I have listed below to the T and you will be able to overcome dense, tough pastry and end up with a tray full of buttery, melt-in-your-mouth Empanadas. Serve them with a fitting dipping sauce and you’ve entered food nirvana!

The last thing you want when you bite into a warm empanada is crunch. This usually happens when you knead your pastry dough like a bread dough making it tough. Other mistakes you can make with the dough are using warm ingredients instead of cold, NOT leaving lumps of cold butter in the dough or not chilling the dough enough before rolling it out. This dough does not need to be kneaded. Just fold the ingredients until they hold together and then refrigerate. Chilling the dough makes it easier to handle, tenderizes it and prevents it from shrinking during baking.

Notes:

Ensure you follow the below steps to ensure a failproof pastry dough.

  1. Do not rub in all of the butter into the flour. Leaving a few lumps will help form layers in the dough.
  2. DO NOT knead the dough. This will activate the gluten and make it chewy.
  3. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours before rolling. This will make the dough softer and easier to roll.
  4. Use chilled water and butter. Warm ingredients and soft will make the dough sticky and difficult to handle.

Ingredients

For Empanada dough
  • All Purpose Flour 1 & ½ cups + 2 tbsps.
  • Cold Butter 90g; cut into ¼ inch cubes
  • Salt ¾ tsp.
  • Egg 1
  • Chilled Water ¼ cup
  • White Vinegar ¾ tbsp.
For Minced Beef Filling
  • Oil 2 tbsp.
  • Ground Beef 250g
  • Onion 1 small
  • Garlic 3-4 cloves; minced
  • Fresh Jalapenos 2; finely chopped
  • Mexican Hot Sauce 1 tbsp.
  • Cayenne Pepper ½ tsp.
  • Cumin Powder ½ tsp.
  • Salt ¼ tsp. or to taste

Instructions

For empanada dough
  1. To make the Empanada pastry take flour in a mixing bowl and add salt. Mix slightly using a spatula.
  2. Add chunks of chilled butter and using your fingers rub the butter into the flour. Do not rub in all the butter. Leave a few chunks.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, water and chilled water.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour and mix using a spatula. Once the flour and egg mixture look like a crumbled dough transfer onto a working surface.
  5. Using your hands press the dough together into a ball. DO NOT KNEAD the dough. It will hold together once chilled.
  6. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours. Refrigerating before rolling is essential.
  7. Once the dough has chilled sprinkle flour over a surface and roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness.
  8. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter or bowl cut out 8-9 circles.
  9. Add 1-2 tablespoons of filling (recipe below) into each circle and wet the edges. Fold into a semicircle and crimp edges with a fork to seal Empanada.
  10. Brush each Empanada with egg mixture. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200 ℃.
For minced beef filling
  1. To make the spicy beef filling sauté chopped onion in oil till translucent.
  2. Add minced beef and keep cooking till beef changes colour.
  3. Add chopped garlic and jalapenos. Sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add all the remaining spices and hot sauce. Cook on high flame until all the beef liquid has dried off.
  5. Remove pot from heat and allow filling to cool down. Mix in cubes of cheese into the mince and keep aside until needed.

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