Monday, February 24, 2014

Spicy Beef Empanadas and Chimichurri

On Sunday we spent the day hunkered down by the fire, staying warm and deciding not to go anywhere. The Olympic closing ceremonies were on, heavy snow was blowing in drifts outside, the roads were bad, so why not just stay home?  Even though I had spent most of Saturday cooking, there were a few things left that I could fiddle around with, right? Turns out hot, flaky, spicy meat filled empanadas slathered with a spicy chimichurri sauce is JUST the thing to make when it’s cold and snowy outside.

These “little pockets of happiness," as Kevin called them, are a little fiddly. There’s rolling out pastry and shaping involved, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Plus it’s completely worth it when you pull a pan of these out of the oven and your teenager is in the kitchen, pulling them off the hot pan and drenching them with sauce before stuffing them in his mouth. I may have joined him, even.


empanadas chimichurri

Servings: about 24 empanadas

Time to prepare: 45 minutes

Time to cook: 30 minutes


two boxes of puff pastry (I used Tenderflake)
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch cumin
pinch cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika
10 oz ground beef
1/4 cup chopped green olives
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dried chile flakes
pinch sugar
2 hard boiled eggs peeled and chopped finely
1 large egg, beaten


In a large frypan, sauté the onions and garlic on medium low in a little olive oil until they are softened, but not browned. Sprinkle in the cumin, cinnamon, and paprika, stirring until fragrant. Add the ground beef, breaking it up and stirring around. Season with some salt and pepper.

Once the beef is browned, mix in the olives, oregano, chili flakes, and sugar. Take the pan off the heat and mix in the hard boiled eggs, then leave the whole thing to cool.

Roll out the puff pastry on a well floured piece of parchment paper on your counter, to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the pastry carefully into 4 inch circles. If you don’t have a 4 inch cutter; that’s okay-Paper Chef parchment’s logo (right on the parchment) is exactly 4 inches in diameter! I cut it out and then just used that to measure. I transfer the dough to a cutting board to protect my counter, which is why I roll it out on parchment or even waxed paper. Much easier to move!

Place the dough circles on a plate, cover it with plastic wrap, and then put in the fridge to chill.

making empanadas

Arrange your workspace so that you can assemble the empanadas. You’ll need a small bowl with a beaten egg and a pastry brush, a rimmed baking sheet to bake the empanadas on. Arrange 2-3 dough circles on the counter in front of you and measure out 1 tbsp filling into the center of each, leaving 1/4 inch border of dough.

beef empanada

Brush 1/2 the rim of the dough circle with egg and then fold over, half moon style, pinching the edges together to make them stick.


Arrange the empanadas on the baking sheet as you assemble them. Using a skewer, poke a hold in the tops of each to allow steam to escape. Put the whole pan in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Brush the empanadas with beaten egg, and then bake for about 10-15 minutes. They will puff and brown, but you don't want them to burn so keep a close eye on them. While the empanadas are cooking, make chimichurri sauce to slather on them while you eat.

empanadas with chimichurri

Chimichurri Sauce


Bunch of fresh Italian parsley (leaves only)
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


Roughly chop up the parsley and garlic in your food processor using the pulse setting a few times. Add the remaining ingredients and process to combine. Serve on the side when you set out the empanadas so people can spoon the sauce over.

Adapted from Gordon Ramsay

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