Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dave's Empanadas

First of all, I apologize for being MIA.  There are two big things coming up in my life right now: graduating from physical therapy school and our wedding.  Well, there have been some new developments with both of those events...I got a job and I found The Dress!  So, I've been pretty busy.  Happy, but busy.

Back to the matter at hand though...have I ever told you that my fiance makes The Best Empanadas in Atlanta?  Well, he does.  We've tried lots of other empanadas all over the city and his really are the best by far.  He, of course, is not a gringo so he is able to make them off the top of his head and add the perfect amounts of everything just by tasting it along the way.  My brain doesn't function that way.  I asked him to do his best to create a recipe out of what he does and here's what I got:


Bear with me because this is a LONG shopping list
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 red peppers, chopped
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 pounds lean ground beef
4 Roma tomatoes
juice of 2 limes
1.5 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons pepper
"a healthy dump of cumin" (not sure what that means...I'm guessing 3 tablespoons)
1 handful of raisins
1 handful of sliced almonds
20 discos (Goya sells them in packs of 10)
1 handful of grated sharp cheddar
1 egg, beaten

And finally...Dave's secret ingredient:
1.5 shots of tequila


If discos are frozen, leave out for half an hour to thaw.  They should still be slightly frozen (you don't want them defrosted all the way to room temperature), but they need to be flexible enough to work with.  If they become too crumbly, use a little bit of water on your fingers to close any holes or tears.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large stock pot.  Add onions, red peppers, and garlic and cook until soft.  Add the ground beef and cook until brown.  Drain the fat and return pot to heat.

Add next ingredients, tomatoes through almonds, as well as the tequila.  Continue to cook uncovered at low heat for 2-3 minutes or until raisins have softened.

Once you have this nice mixture fully combined and cooked, spoon the filling onto the discos.
This part is difficult to quantify because it depends so much on the skill level of the cook.  I can get the disco to close with about 1 tablespoon of filling.  Dave can get it to close with at least 2.  Start small and try to put more filling in once you've developed your skill.  Top with a pinch of grated cheddar.

Next, fold the disco over the filling and close the edges with a fork, like so:

Place closed discos on a greased cookie sheet.  Preheat oven to 350˚.  Use a pastry brush to brush over each empanada with the beaten egg.

Next, stick those things in the oven.  They don't need to cook for that long (remember, your meat is already browned).  You're really just crisping the crust.  The important step in the cooking process is to make sure the empanadas cool appropriately.  Once you take them out of the oven, you need to let them sit for a while.  There is heat trapped inside the pastry, which means that 1) the inside will continue to cook even when out of the oven and 2) the steam trapped inside will make everything nice and moist.

Dave says to cook it at 350˚ "until golden brown" and to let cool "until you can't take the anticipation anymore."  I say cook for 20 minutes and let cool for 10.  Close enough.

Serve as appetizers or side dishes, but either way serve with salsa verde!


  1. I should note that I realize that these things are supposed to be deep fried, but I have opted for baking because it's healthier (which my gringa appreciates). It tastes just as good!

  2. soooooo good... and finally we learn the secret ingredient!

    at times I've notice y'all have omitted the raisins... personally I like the added texture and flavor

  3. Good point, Dave (or Mr. Cuban Knight)! Ryan, I'm glad you like the raisins...I too think they're an important addition!

    EJB, sorry dude...I ate all the leftovers already :)