De Nada, Empanada

This is the perfect food to eat on the fly.  My neighbor is a complete rock star when it comes to empanadas, and of course I get a ton...

This is the perfect food to eat on the fly.  My neighbor is a complete rock star when it comes to empanadas, and of course I get a ton when she does exercise her culinary genius.  An empanada is a Spanish or Latin American pastry turnover filled with a variety of savory ingredients and baked or fried.  I have also enjoys them sweet as well.  They are easy to freeze and heat up later or take on your drive to work.  I am in love.

With so many variations, you could literally throw whatever you have lying around and voila, pure heaven in a little pouch.  I want to share my favorites with you.  The dough is key, so follow the directions even if you don’t want to.  Now, here’s a tip…make a lot and freeze, they will hold up for a couple weeks in the freezer.

Beef Empanadas

Time1 1/2 hours Yield36 empanadas

Beef, Spanish Cooked



4 ounces lard or butter, plus more for brushing tops

1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

750 grams all-purpose flour, about 6 cups, more as needed


1 pound beef chuck, in 1/8-inch dice (or very coarsely ground)

Salt and pepper

Lard or olive oil, or a combination, for sautéing

1 cup diced onion

2 ounces diced chorizo

½ pound potatoes, peeled and diced

4 garlic cloves, mashed to a paste

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

2 teaspoons chopped marjoram or 1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon pimentón dulce or paprika

Large pinch cayenne

Beef or chicken broth, as necessary, or use water

½ cup chopped scallions, white and green parts

¼ cup chopped pitted green olives

2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced


Make the dough: Put 2 cups boiling water, 4 ounces lard and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl. Stir to melt lard and dissolve salt. Cool to room temperature.

Gradually stir in flour with a wooden spoon until dough comes together. Knead for a minute or two on a floured board, until firm and smooth. Add more flour if sticky. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Make the filling: Season chopped beef generously with salt and pepper and set aside for 10 minutes. Melt 3 tablespoons lard in a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and fry until nicely browned, stirring throughout to keep pieces separate, about 5 minutes.

Turn heat down to medium and add onion and chorizo. Keep turning mixture with a spatula, as if cooking hash, until onion is softened and browned, about 10 minutes. Add potatoes, garlic, thyme and marjoram and stir well to incorporate. (Add a little more fat to pan if mixture seems dry.) Season again with salt and pepper and let mixture fry for 2 more minutes. Stir in tomato paste, pimentón and cayenne, then a cup of broth or water. Turn heat to simmer, stirring well to incorporate any caramelized bits.

Cook for about 10 more minutes, until both meat and potatoes are tender and the sauce just coats them — juicy but not saucy is what you want. Taste and adjust seasoning for full flavor (intensity will diminish upon cooling). Stir in scallions and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Divide chilled dough into 1-ounce pieces and form into 2-inch diameter balls. Roll each piece into a 4 1/2-inch circle. Lay circles on a baking sheet lightly dusted with flour.

Moisten outer edge of each round with water. Put about 2 tablespoons filling in the center of each round, adding a little chopped green olive and some hard-cooked egg to each. Wrap dough around filling to form empanada, pressing edges together. Fold edge back and finish by pinching little pleats or crimping with a fork.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place empanadas on parchment-lined or oiled baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Brush tops lightly with lard or butter and bake on top shelf of oven until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Chocolate-Banana Empanadas

Total Time:

2 hr 40 min


40 min


1 hr 30 min


30 min

Yield:20 empanadas


4 large ripe bananas

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 recipe empanada dough, recipe follows

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken in chunks

Confectioners’’ sugar, for dusting

Empanada Dough:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup masa harina

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash

Butter, for greasing the pans


Mash the bananas, sugar, and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl until creamy, but not completely smooth – you should still have pieces of banana chunks. Spoon a generous tablespoon of the banana filling on the empanada pastry circles and stick a piece of chocolate on top. Form and bake the empanadas as directed in the recipe. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot.

Empanada Dough:

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, masa harina, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Gradually add 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of water, working it in with your hands to incorporate; the dough should be easy to handle and not sticky. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.

Lightly flour your rolling pin and counter. Divide the dough in 1/2 so it will be easier to work with and roll it out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie or biscuit cutter, cut out 10 circles of dough; repeat with the other 1/2.

Spoon 2 generous tablespoons of filling into the center of each pastry circle, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Brush the edges with the egg wash and then fold the dough over in 1/2 to enclose the filling and form a semi-circle. Tightly seal the edges by crimping with the tines of a fork. Chill at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the empanadas on a buttered baking sheet and brush the tops with additional egg wash. Using a fork, prick a few holes in the top of the empanadas for steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.



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