Grandma Pearl’s Amazing Empanadas
By Christina Stanley-Salerno of
Take Back Your Table
This recipe was given to me by my wonderful Grandmother-in-law, Pearl. She lives in Florida but is originally from Argentina, where this recipe hails
from. Thanks to her, I get rave reviews every time I make them! Sharing time with Pearl brought back great childhood memories of my own Granda Mary, who has long since passed. I am grateful to both of them for sharing their recipes and stories with me. Any time I want to feel close to my grandmother, I make one of her recipes and her spirit is never too far away.
We all lead busy lives and it can be difficult to find the time to cook but it’s not impossible. Please remember, there will never be another day like today. Take time to cook and eat with the ones you love. Even if it’s just to burn a grilled cheese sandwich. I promise you, the laughs and the stories you’ll share will be some of the most important memories of your life.
Note: Empanada wrappers can be easily found in the freezer section of most supermarkets. If you can’t find them, use frozen puffed pastry.
Word to the mamas and papas: Not only is this beef mixture great for empanadas, it’s also delicious over rice. It’s very similar to a ground beef dish called Picadillo. A perfect meal to serve to the little ones as an introduction to Latin cuisine (sans the red pepper flakes and maybe with a leaner cut of beef). It also freezes beautifully. Served this to my toothless 9 month old baby and he went ga-ga!
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 tsps cumin
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (we like chuck)
- 1 tbsps flour
- 3/4 c pimento stuffed green olives , chopped
- 1/2 c raisins (you can omit if you don’t like raisins but this really makes them special)
- salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt because the olives are salty)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- 24 empanada wrappers, thawed (I prefer Goya)
- 5 cups vegetable oil for frying (grandma uses Crisco and I am sure lard if it were still easy to find)
Preheat a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 8 minutes or until slightly soft.
Stir in ground beef and cook, using a wooden spoon to break up lumps. Cook until beef is no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle in flour to absorb excess oil. Allow mixture to cool for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the olives, raisins, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and chopped eggs.
Sprinkle a little flour on your counter and spread out a few empanada wrappers. Place a tablespoon of the beef mixture into the center of each disk. Moisten edges of each disk with a tiny bit of water and fold over to form a semicircle, then crimp closed with a fork. Keep going until you have used up all of your wrappers.
Heat vegetable oil in a deep 12-inch skillet or stockpot over medium heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer. Fry empanadas, 3 at a time, turning once, until crisp and golden, 6 minutes per batch. Transfer the cooked empanadas to a baking sheet to keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you fry the remaining empanadas.
If your not a meat-eater, she also taught me an amazing swap-out, using canned tuna. Simply, drain 2 cans of tuna (she used water packed) and toss it in with the rest of the ingredients listed below.
When crimping edges, dip the tines of your fork in flour to prevent sticking.
If you are not a fan of deep frying, no problem! Brush each empanada with an egg wash, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20minutes.
Don’t have a frying thermometer? Simply drop a small piece of the un-cooked empanada wrapper into the oil. If it sizzles, you know the oil is hot enough. If it sinks, your oil is still too cold.
Absolutely! I keep a batch of these frozen in my freezer as a snack for the family or to feed unexpected guests. Place un-cooked empanadas between sheets of waxed paper, wrap with aluminum foil and drop into freezer storage bags. When you feel like an empanada, pop one out and allow to thaw for 10 minutes on your counter before choosing your cooking method.
How can I make these vegetarian?
Finely chop 1 medium onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small zucchini, 2 portobello mushrooms. Sautee in 2 tbsps olive oil until tender, about 6 minutes. Combine with cumin, salt, pepper, raisins and olives and assemble as stated above.