Working Moms’ Quick Empanada Dinner

In my book, mixing savory ground beef with pastry dough is a definite “must try.”

Yes I’ve done shepherd’s pie, which is basically browned ground hamburger meat mixed with garlic, onions, carrots and celery put into a pie dish, topped with whipped mash potatoes, and baked until the top is golden brown. (Oh words don’t even describe how much I LOVE this dish!). But no matter how much I love mashed potatoes and the sheer comfort I feel when I eat them alone or with anything savory, they cannot beat the buttery, flaky savoriness of pastry dough.

So when I recently saw an empanada recipe using ground beef and puff pastry dough, I decided to use my standby mixture of browned ground beef, garlic, onions, celery and carrots and tuck it inside some pre-made, fluffy puff pastry dough for a quick and easy, all-in-one, no-utensils-needed dinner with the fam. And to my surprise, my little ones–now age nine and six–had second and third helpings!

Here is what I did to make individual-sized savory, ground beef empanadas. Yum!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed to room temperature 
  • 1 pound of 85% lean ground beef
  •  3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 3/4 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp. water
  •  1 tsp. dried basil
  • Seasoned salt and pepper

First, it is important to make sure your beef is cooked all the way through and browned up nicely to give it that good caramelized taste. Saute your ground beef on high heat and make sure to drain any excess liquid. Season with seasoned salt and pepper and add the garlic, onions and carrot. Cook until the carrot starts to soften. Add the celery and cook until softened a bit.

Next, add the tomato paste and water and stir the hamburger mixture. Place a lid on top of the pan and simmer mixture on low heat so that the veggies are all soft. Then remove the lid when the water has absorbed and cool the mixture to room temperature so that you don’t end up softening your pastry dough when you stuff it for your empanadas.

 In the meantime, unroll the two sheets of puff pastry on a floured surface. Grab a bowl, mug or cup with about a four inch diameter. Use this as a cutter to cut out 12 rounds of the pastry.

Begin to wrap your empanadas by filling one side of the pastry round with about two tablespoons of the hamburger mixture. Then, grab a pastry brush or use your fingers to brush the egg mixture onto the edges of the dough that will be sealed together. 

Fold the other side of the dough over the top of mixture and either press together with your fingers and fold bits of dough over itself in a “fan” style to seal or use a fork to press down on the two sides to cinch them together. Make sure there are no holes in the dough and that the sides are sealed all the way to avoid the hamburger oozing out of the sides.Then, brush all the little beauties with the beaten egg mixture so they bake up gorgeous and shiny.

Stuff all 12 empanadas and bake at 400 degrees on a foil-lined and greased baking sheet for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow for about one inch of space in between the little gems.

Allow the empanadas to cool and enjoy the crunchy, salty, savory yumminess!

And don’t forget, the mixture can be anything you want it to be–turkey, pork, sausage along with most veggies such as peas or corn. Just make sure that it’s not too watery. You can also make sweet empandas with canned cherry or apple pie filling to satisfy that sweet tooth! I’m even considering buffalo chicken and cheese-stuffed empanadas or queso-stuffed. Both a match made in heaven.