Empanadas are a dish that many countries have made their own. Whether you bake or fry them, add a meat or vegetable filling, they are to die for. Try these healthier baked empanadas with ground beef and put your own spin on them.
What are Empanadas?
Empanadas are said to have originated in Galicia, Spain. And people have been enjoying these filled pastries since the early 1500s. Traditionally, empanadas are turnover pastries with different types of filling. The most typical filling is usually a mixture of meat, cheese, tomatoes, etc. These pastries are most common in Latin American, Southern European, and Philippine cultures. Each of these cultures has taken the concept of empanadas and made it unique to their own culture. A traditional Chilean empanada, for example, is filled with unexpected ingredients like black olives, raisins, hard-boiled eggs and ground beef. Whereas, in the Philippine cultures it is more common to come across chicken or pork-filled empanadas.
The perfect pastry
In today’s recipe, we are opting for the healthier options where we can. First off, we will be baking the pastry and not frying. All you need for this pastry is the following:
- Cold butter
- One egg
- Cold water
Using cold butter is a vital key in the pastry as it doesn’t melt into the flour. The cold butter helps to develop the air pockets in the pastry, which, when baked, turns into the delicious flaky texture we’re after.
Ground beef filling
The empanada filling is where all the flavour lies. That is why this recipe is packed with herbs and spices like cumin, cilantro, oregano, and of course, nothing is complete without garlic. The added onion, red peppers, and spring onions bring a freshness to the dish and blend beautifully with the ground beef flavour.
After filling and folding your pasties, brush each empanada with the egg wash. And after about 20 minutes you’ll have beautiful golden empanadas ready to be enjoyed.
Healthier Baked Empanada with Ground Beef
- 2 & ½ cups flour
- 2 & ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup cold butter sliced into little pieces
- 1 beaten egg
- ½ – ¾ cup cold water
- 500 g ground beef
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 chopped onion (red or white)
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1 & ½ cup finely grated baby cabbage
- 1 tsp finely chopped fresh oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1-2 red peppers finely chopped, (chillies are optional)
- 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon of milk for an egg wash
- Combine the flour and salt in a bowl then whisk it together to combine well
- Add the cold cut butter and use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until it is crumbly then add the beaten egg and mix with a spoon or your hand just until it's mixed in
- Add 1/2 cup of cold water and start kneading with your hand until the dough comes together into a ball, If the mixture is too dry, add an additional 1 tablespoon of cold water at a time until it is right
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or more
- While the dough is chilling, make the filling then heat the oil on medium/high heat and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes with a pinch of salt until it just starts to become translucent
- Add the ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks then cook until the meat is brown and the onion translucent
- Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute, add the grated cabbage, oregano and cilantro, chillies or red pepper and stir it around and let the spinach completely wilt
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, make it spicier if needed, stir then set aside to cool
Making the empanadas
- Prepare 2 or 1 large baking tray with baking paper or non-stick spray, make your egg wash and set it next to your work surface
- Place half of the dough on a floured surface and put the other half back in the fridge until you are ready to work with it, then dust the dough with flour and roll it out until it is as thin as you can get it without tearing
- Using an 11.43 centimetres inch biscuit cutter, bowl or cup, cut out the rounds, you should get 8 from each half of the dough
- Take one round, run the roller over it just a couple of times to do a final stretch and thin of it, then place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling on the almost centre
- Using your finger or a brush, dampen the bottom half edge of the dough with the egg wash, pull the top of the dough round up and over the filling and press it down on the dampened edge so that you are left with a half-moon
- Using a fork, seal the edges of the pastry, place the pastry on a lined baking sheet or baking sheet that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray
- Brush the top of each empanada with the egg wash so that it gets a nice golden colour and a good crust, place in the fridge then continue until you have 18 empanadas, keep in the fridge for about an hour or longer
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius / 392 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the empanadas from the fridge, place both baking sheets in the oven and bake for 18-25 minutes, rotating them after about 10 minutes
- My oven took a total of over 20 minutes until my empanadas were perfectly puffed and browned, serve hot or at room temperature with yogurt and chilly sauce (optional)