Monday, March 28, 2011

Beef and Cheese Empanadas

(From Cook's Illustrated)


  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 pinches ground cloves
  • 2 pinches cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound 85 percent lean ground chuck
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large egg , beaten, or olive oil (for brushing on tops of empanadas)
  • 1 package empanada wrappers (10/package)


  1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, cumin, cloves, and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the beef and cook, breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

  2. Stir in the broth, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the mixture is moist but not wet, about 8 minutes. (I had to drain it a bit.) Off the heat, stir in the sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until completely cool, about 1 hour. Stir in the cheese and continue to chill until needed, up to 3 days.

  3. Working with the first batch of dough rounds, take one at a time, rim edge with water, and fill with 2-3 tablespoons of filling. Fold in half, seal, and crimp the edges of the empanadas using a fork. Arrange them on a fresh, parchment-lined baking sheet. Wrap the baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making a second batch of empanadas.

  4. To Store: Make sure each baking sheet is covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month. (After the empanadas are completely frozen, about 8 hours, they can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer. Transfer back to a parchment-lined baking sheet before baking.)

  5. To Serve: Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Unwrap the empanadas and brush with the egg or oil. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the trays halfway through the baking time. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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