In my opinion, there are very few savoury foods that can’t be improved by being wrapped in pastry. From good old Kiwi and Aussie mince pies to Cornish Pasties, from Moroccan Pastilla to Indian samosas, it seems the whole world agrees.
There is something so incredibly satisfying about a flaky, buttery crust hiding a deliciously hot filling that makes it irresistible. I’ve written before about pies from my culture, Creamy Chicken Pie or Beef and Lentil Cottage Pie, but for today’s recipe, I’ve taken a trip to South America, home of the Empanada.
Though the oldest recipes for empanadas actually date back to Spain in the 1500s, the ones we are more familiar with are their South American cousins. In South America empanadas come in all sorts of varieties, from traditional savoury to modern sweet confections with chocolate, cinnamon or dulce de leche! I’m sticking with traditional however for today’s recipe: Easy Baked Beef Empanadas.
In the recipe below I have included instructions for making a rough puff pastry. If you have the time or the inclination it is absolutely worth the extra effort, but if you’re in a hurry, then empanadas are perfectly good with store-bought pastry too.
I like to fill mine with gently spiced and lightly sweetened beef, but the empanada is the perfect vehicle for loads of different fillings. Chicken, pork or vegetarian mushroom and cheese are all good!
What’s your favourite empanada filling? Let me know in the comments below! Take care out there and happy cooking. xJ
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to make my own pastry to make Easy Baked Beef Empanadas?
No! You can use a good quality store-bough puff or shortcrust pastry. If you have time, try the rough puff though – it’s easier than you think.
Can I make vegetarian empanadas?
Of course! Mushroom and cheese or pea and potato are some good options.
Can I make empanadas in advance?
Yes, you can. Either bake the empanadas and reheat gently when needed, or you can fill the empanadas and freeze them unbaked. They can be baked directly from frozen, though they will need a little extra time in the oven.
Baked Beef Empanadas Recipe
for the rough puff pastry:
- 300g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 50g butter, cold
- 125g butter, frozen
for the filling:
- 1 Tbsp oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 300g beef mince
- ½ red pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
- ½ beef stock cube, crumbled
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp mild chilli flakes
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- sea salt & black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp milk
- To make the pastry, stir together the flour, salt and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and toss through the flour, rubbing briefly with your fingers to combine. Add 100-120ml of very cold water to the bowl and stir, then knead until a smooth dough forms - you may need a little more water depending on your flour.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle, approximated 20x30cm. Grate half of the frozen butter over the lower two-thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third then fold the bottom third up as if you were folding a letter.
- Turn the dough 90° and roll out again. Grate over the remaining butter and fold again as above. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate at least 30-45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the filling. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the mince and cook until coloured, then add the red pepper and garlic. Add the beef stock, sugar chilli, cumin, oregano and cinnamon, then cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool.
- When the dough has chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out 16 x 10cm diameter rounds. You will probably need to use the scraps and re-roll them to get the full amount. Spoon one tablespoon of the filling onto each pastry round. Beat the egg and milk together, then brush half of the border with the egg wash. Fold the pastry over to seal and use a fork to press the edges together.
- Place the empanadas in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, line a tray with baking paper and heat the oven to 180°C / 350° F / Gas 4.
- When the empanadas have chilled and the oven is hot, place the empanadas on the baking tray. Cut a small slit in each to allow air to escape, then brush evenly with the remaining egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve warm with salsa or sour cream swirled with chilli sauce for dipping.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 873Total Fat: 54gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 208mgSodium: 801mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 32g