Beef Empanadas

Story by Holly
Beef Empanadas
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In the midst of a Northwest winter, babies with bronchitis and urgent deadlines that snuck up on us too quickly, adventure is brewing.

Call it what you will, an idea, small-talk between friends or perhaps just wishful thinking. Whatever it was, we knew we were heading in the right direction. While cooking in the kitchen this afternoon, we started dreaming of hitting the road. Has anyone seen the gas prices lately? We won’t go into details about what’s happening in the world that has lead to this happenstance, we’ll just say, if there’s ever a time to take a road trip, now would be it. So we schemed and let our thoughts take us to where they always seem to go. Food.

We constantly crave a good adventure with with an opportunity to explore.

Both having friends and family in the San Francisco area, we thought heading there for a day or two might be a fun way to get over the winter blues that are, in fact, creeping in. We are still processing the details, but one thing is for sure we will eat good food. In fact, that’s pretty much all we would do. Experience the city via our taste buds. Wandering through town, stopping in coffee shops and ice cream boutiques.

Beef Empanadas

We constantly crave a good adventure with with an opportunity to explore. We’ll keep you posted on the details of our upcoming trip. In the mean time, we have been experimenting with spices, herbs and flavor profiles that originated in regions other than our own. We find it therapeutic when time and life aren’t permitting travel. This week we made empanadas. Small, flaky hand pies that originated in Latin and South Americas. These little wonders can be filled with many different things. We choose a beef and veggie filling married with warm spices.

Beef Empanadas

Serves 4


2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 oz butter, chilled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes
1 egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 egg, beaten for egg wash


1 large russet potato, peeled, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
3/4 lb beef, ground
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, grated
1 small carrot, grated
1 rib of celery, finely minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup peas
3/4 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


  1. To make the pastry dough pulse the flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter, egg and ice water. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Shape the dough into a ball. Tightly cover the dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  2. While dough is resting, prepare the filling. Fill a medium size stock pot ¾ full with water. Bring to a boil.
  3. While waiting for water to boil, cook the ground beef in a large frying pan over medium heat. When the meat is finished cooking, drain the fat over a colander resting over a bowl. Set aside the cooked meat.
  4. Using the same pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat and add the onions, celery and carrots. Sauté vegetable mixture until everything is tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes longer.
  5. If water is starting to boil, add the cubed potato to the pot. Boil the potato until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain potatoes and reserve alongside the beef.
  6. Add the chili powder, cumin and cinnamon to the vegetable mixture. Sauté 1 minute longer until spices are fragrant. Return the beef along with the cooked potatoes to the pan with the sautéd vegetables. Add beef broth and peas. Simmer over medium heat until everything is well incorporated and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper. Taste the filling and adjust spices if needed.
  7. Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Roll it very thin on a lightly floured surface. Using a large biscuit cutter or other round object (we used a kitchen funnel) cut 6 inch circles.
  8. Holding the circle of dough in one hand and a heaping spoonful of filling in the other, spoon the filling into the center of the dough.
  9. Wet a pastry brush with egg wash and dampen the inside ¼ inch edge of the filled dough. Fold the dough in half. Using a fork, firmly press the edges together.
  10. Repeat this process with remaining dough and filling and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Preheat oven to 400 and place rack into the center of the oven.
  12. Using egg wash, brush each empanada. Refrigerate for 20 min.
  13. Bake for 40 min or until golden brown