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Empanadas de Picadillo

Empanadas de Picadillo |
You know I'm a sucker food "food holidays" right?  Well, if you didn't know it before, you know it now!  So, when Leslie asked if I wanted to make empanadas for she made, ella hace to coincide with National Empanada Day (that's today) this month, you can probably guess that it took me all of 1 second to contemplate.



Now, if you're familiar with our series, you may remember that we have already made empanadas together once (last October).  However, we both went sweet with those, so this time, we're both going savory.  And let me just say - I have found MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE EMPANADAS!

Adapted from a recipe in the new book by Pati Jinich, these are hands-down the best empanadas I've ever eaten in my life.  I had to put them out of reach in order to stop eating them.   It's funny, because the filling is just a simple picadillo (a dish of ground meat that contains spices, nuts, dried fruit, and/or olives in some variation).  But this combination is particularly good.  Though you can use any ground meat or combination of meat you like, I chose pork.  I substituted currants for the raisins - which may seem like a miniscule change, but I love the smaller (which also means more per measuring cup) fruit studding the meat.  I used manzanillo olives that were stuffed with pimiento, because I already had a jar open - but you could go either way (or even used some stuffed with something else, if you like).  Mine wound up a bit too liquidy, so I adjusted for what worked for me.
Empanadas de Picadillo |
And then there's the crust.  Four simple ingredients that I would NOT change one little bit.  This is the tenderest, most flaky empanada dough ever.  And I will make it this way from now  until the end of time.  (Unless something new comes along that really blows my mind sometime in future-land.  But I don't see that happening.)

I'm so psyched that Leslie suggested empanadas this month...because I found these babies, and they're going to be made monthly in my kitchen.  But that doesn't mean that I don't have room for Leslie's Poblano Chicken Empanadas.  Because yeah, I'm all about the chicken and poblano combination.

Who's up for an empanadalada?  (Yes, I made that term up.  I think.)  Let me try that again.  Who's ready for an EMPANADA PARTY!?

Empanadas de Picadillo

by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 30 minutes (+ resting time for dough & cooling time for picadillo)
Cook Time: 60 minutes (combined time)
Keywords: bake entree almonds pork raisins Mexican

Ingredients (16 empanadas)
    for the picadillo:
    • 3 Tbs. corn oil
    • 1 small yellow onion, diced
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 lb. ground pork
    • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
    • 1 (26.46 oz.) box Pomi Strained Tomatoes
    • 1 c. chicken stock (or low-sodium broth)
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
    • 1/4 c. slivered almonds, toasted
    • 1/4 c. currants
    • 1/4 c. Manzanilla olives (with or without pimiento), roughly chopped
    for the empanada dough:
    • 8 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 2 1/3 c. all-purpose flour + more for work surface
    • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
    to finish:
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • handful of sesame seeds
    equipment needed:
    • 4.5-inch "cutter" (I used the ring from a 4.5-inch springform pan)
    making the picadillo:
    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium- high heat. Add onion and cook until tender, ~4 minutes. Add garlic to the pan and cook for 1 minute longer. Add meat and salt to the pan; cook until meat is browned through, 8-10 minutes.

    Add the strained tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer gently until the mixture thickens up and turns a darker red color, 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broth, cinnamon, cumin, and cloves and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.

    Add the almonds, currants, and olives to the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. You want the filling to be moist, but not soupy. Set aside to cool.

    making the empanada dough:
    Add the butter and cream cheese to a large bowl and beat with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the flour and salt and beat until just combined. Form dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, flatten into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours.

    putting it all together:
    Preheat oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. If you have two oven racks, place one in upper third of oven and one in bottom third. If you only have one, then cook one tray at a time in the middle of the oven.

    Cut the chilled dough in half. Working with one half of the dough at a time, roll dough out on a lightly floured work surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out rounds using your 4.5-inch cutter, re-rolling and cutting as needed to get 8 circles per half of dough.

    Gently brush some of the beaten egg around the outside of the dough rounds. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of the picadillo in the center of each. Fold dough in half, over the filling, and press the edges to seal using the tines of a fork.
    Empanadas de Picadillo |
    Transfer to prepared baking sheets (8 per sheet) and brush the tops with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

    Slide into preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. They are great hot or at room temperature.

    I had about 1 1/2 cups of the picadillo filling left over after making 16 empanadas. You can heat it up and serve warm alongside a plate of beans and rice with tortillas for scooping everything up. That is also about the right amount for another half-batch of empanadas, if you want to make some more dough...

    If you cannot find anything for cutting that is 4.5-inches around, you could always draw a circle that big on parchment paper, cut it out, and trace around it with a knife in the dough.

    If you want to work in advance, once you have the empanadas arranged on the baking sheet, set the sheet into the freezer until the empanadas are frozen solid.  Transfer them to freezer-safe zippered baggies.  When you're ready to bake them, take them out and set on a baking sheet while you preheat the oven (15-20 minutes) and then bake as directed.

    If you cannot find Pomi tomatoes, you could use ~1 1/2 lbs. of tomatoes that have been pureed or a 28 oz. can of crushed or pureed tomatoes in its place.

    adapted from Pati's Mexican Table
    Empanadas de Picadillo |
    What happens when two American girls who are both married to Mexican guys find out that although one of them lives in the U.S. and one of them lives in Mexico, they both love eating the same food?  Well, naturally they decide to get "together" the only way they can and cook up the same dishes.  Or perhaps take the same ingredients and talking about them in their own voice or using them in their own way. 

    Leslie and I have teamed up to occasionally cook/bake/make a our own versions of the same food.  We want to see how similar (or how different) they turn out.  Other times we will pick an ingredient and use it however we choose...or maybe just talk about it.  Good food knows no borders and we hope to share the food we love with you.  It's not a competition, it's a showcase.  We will post on the same day as each other and would love to hear your thoughts on what we've made and how you make it. 

    Join me (here at girlichef) and Leslie in her kitchen (at La Cocina de Leslie) for some delicious food.
    She Made, Ella Hace Banner- and