If you live in Venice Beach, I envy you for one small reason; the Empanada Place. I grew up in Mar Vista for a few years and would always nibble on these warm pockets of delicious goodness.
On the way to my friend Victoria’s bachelorette party a few weeks before, we stopped to pick up a box of empanadas for the road. I hadn’t had them in over a year, and the treat was much appreciated. She had never had one before, lives near by, and goes all the time now.
This recipe is a variation of one I found online at Epicurious. They also call for a store bought dough. I decided to make my own (similar to pie dough). I baked mine but you could also fry them.
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cold and cut into 12 pieces
4-5 tbs water
2 hard-boiled large eggs
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 pound ground meat (traditionally beef, I used ground turkey)
3 tablespoons raisins
2 1/2 tbs chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1 (14-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving 4 tablespoons juice
Before we begin, let me just fill you in on a little something. You will notice my empanadas don’t have the hardboiled eggs. Add them! I omitted them when I made the filling since I am allergic to egg whites and can’t eat eggs in their natural form. But I will fill you in on where they should go. Before I found out about my allergy, this was one of my favorite things about the empanadas at my local store. Definitely something you need to put it.
The dough needs to be made first and put in the fridge to cool. It is really easy; if you have a food processor, essentially toss everything in and pulse. If you don’t you need to use a fork to slowly mash the flour an butter together with the egg. It takes time…I was hungry…. so I went for the food processor.
Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
Add the egg and water.
Chop the cold butter into 12 pieces and add it to the processor. Pulse until a clumpy dough forms.
Form a ball and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Put the diced onion into a pan with the olive oil. Cook until softened.
Add garlic, cumin, and oregano. Stir together and cook until everything starts to get fragrant. Stir in meat (this time I used ground turkey) and cook through, breaking up lumps with a fork.
Add raisins, olives, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into the mixture. Stir around and incorporate everything.
Next, add the tomatoes with reserved juice. The juice keeps everything moist. Stir occasionally until liquid is reduced but mixture is still moist, about 5 minutes. Once reduced down, the mixture is done. Set aside to let cool a bit. Once the mixture has cooled, chop the egg and lightly toss it amongst the meat mixture. You want it to to keep its shape.
Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate). I used a cup edge for mine. Place 2-3 tablespoons meat mixture on disc.
Moisten edges of disk with water and fold over to form a semicircle.
Crimp the edges with a fork. Make the rest in the same way.
Lay them on a oil sprayed cookie sheet.
Bake them at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.
Enjoy them for dinner, as a snack, or even a cool dish at a party. Mine that night? Eaten with a glass of wine while watching football. Perfect!