Planning a holiday party? Consider putting these empanadas on your to-do list for appetizers. If you are not familiar with empanadas, they are basically turnovers, usually stuffed with a savory minced meat filling, and popular throughout the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. In this recipe, the pastry dough is made with cream cheese, butter, and flour, resulting in a particularly scrumptious pastry. The filling is a delicious curried ground pork picadillo. Feel free to improvise with the filling ingredients; you can use practically any stew with finely minced meat, simmered down to the point of barely any liquid, with a little cornstarch added to help soak up extra liquid.
Do you have a favorite empanada recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments.
Many parts of this recipe can be made in advance to save time. The dough and the filling can be made 2 days ahead of time. The formed empanadas can be chilled several hours before baking. Once baked, the empanadas can be made a day ahead of time and reheated before serving.
The pastries are best made in batches, keeping the dough and dough rounds chilled in between batches to make them easier to form.
- 16 ounces cream cheese (do not use light), room temperature
- 8 ounces (2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, beaten, for pastry egg wash
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 Tbsp sherry
- 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
1 Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, until well blended. Slowly add in the flour, mixing until incorporated. Form two balls (it will be easier to work with 2 separate pieces of dough), then flatten each into a disk. Dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2 While dough is chilling, heat a large frying pan on medium high/high heat. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt on the bottom of the pan. Break off bits of ground pork and add to the pan, until all the pork is added without crowding. Do not stir. Let the pork brown. Once nicely browned on one side, then use a spatula to flip the pieces to the other side so the other side can brown. Once the pork is nicely browned on 2 sides, reduce the heat on the pan to medium, and remove the pork to a bowl.
3 Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan. Then add the finely chopped onion. Let onions gently cook on medium heat for a few minutes until translucent. Add the minced garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add the finely chopped mushrooms, cooking for a few minutes more. Add the curry powder, ground coriander, and cardamom to the pan. Mix the spices in with the onion mix. Add the ground pork back to the pan, mixing in the seasoned onion mix. Add the raisins. Add the sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and corn starch, mixing well. Break bigger pieces of ground pork with the edge of a metal spatula. Remove from heat, and chill until time to stuff the pastries.
4 Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured, smooth, clean surface, roll out one of the dough rounds to a thin 1/8-inch thickness. (If refrigerated for more than an hour, you may need to let it sit for 10 minutes to soften it enough to roll it out more easily.) Use a wide-mouthed jar (about 3 inches wide) to cut out rounds. Place them on a baking sheet.
During this and the next step, if the dough becomes too soft and therefore difficult to work with, put whatever you are working on in the refrigerator to chill for 5 or 10 minutes.
5 Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the inside edge of the rounds with egg wash (to help the empanadas seal). Place a teaspoon of meat inside each round. Fold the round over to and press the edges to seal shut. Use the tines of a fork to flute the edges. Place standing upright on a baking sheet, spaced an inch apart. (You can also lie them down, but with them upright, you'll fit more on a pan.) Use a pastry brush to brush the sides (not the bottom) of the empanadas with more egg wash.
6 Working in batches, cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.