Sunday, November 18, 2007


So these are pastelillos if you're from Puerto Rico, and empanadas if you're from anywhere else. My friend Maya taught me how to make them when we were about 15 years old. I make them for parties all the time, and people love them. They're also a super economical way to feed a group of folks. My aunt Linda has suggested on numerous occasions that I could probably get rich pushing an empanada cart.

1 lb ground beef
2 teaspoon plus one tablespoon of olive oil
1 onion, diced medium
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 green pepper, diced small
1/2 red pepper, diced small
1/2 cup pimento stuffed olives, chopped (or more, to taste)
1/2 cup raisins
fire roasted tomato sauce or sofrito tomato paste -- about a cup
ground cumin
cayenne pepper
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
30 Goya frozen discos para empanadas, thawed.

Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a large saute pan, and sear the ground beef, breaking it up as it sears. Take it off the heat while the meat is still undercooked in places. you want the flavor of the sear, but you don't want the meat to overcook. Set the meat aside in a large bowl, and wash out the pan. Return the saute pan to the stove and heat the remaining tablespoon of oil to saute the onions, peppers and garlic together until the vegetables begin to soften - about 4 minutes. Add the spices and the tomato sauce. Cook for a few minutes. Take the vegetables off the heat and add them to the meat in the bowl. Add the olives and raisins. Taste for seasoning. The mixture should be extremely flavorful and moist, and even tending towards being a little overseasoned is fine, because the empanada dough will tone the seasoning down a little bit. The filling can be made the night before and sit covered in the refrigerator. Taste for seasoning again before filling the empanadas. Fold in the cilantro just before filling the discos.

On a cutting board, take each disco and stretch or roll it out. Pile a heaping scoop of the filling on one half of the dough. Pull the other half of the dough over the filling and press the edges together to make a half circle. The edges must be tightly crimped together. Take a fork and crimp around the edge to make a decorative border.

Heat the oil in a large pan until it is hot. Add the empanadas, 3 OR 4 at time, and fry them until they are brown on one side, about 1 minute. Turn them over carefully and brown on the other side. Remove the empanadas from the oil with a slotted spatula and let drain on paper towels, adding more empanadas to the oil until they are all fried. Serve hot.

Yield: 30 empanadas

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