Every culture seems to have its own pastry which is baked or deep fried with fillings made of meats, vegetables or fruits.  Whether it is a samosa from India, a calzone from Italy, a meat patty from Jamaica or an empanada from Latin America, I love them all!  For my recipe file I chose to try a beef empanada recipe.  I’ve used a modified version of my taco recipe for the filling and I have included a cooling black bean and sour cream dipping sauce on the side. The secret to my empanada beef filling recipe is the addition of the Thai sweet chili sauce.  Although the chili sauce is pretty spicy, much of the chili fire is cooked out of the filling during the baking, so that these are not super spicy empanadas.  The sauce also adds a bit of sweetness to the filling. I am sorry that I do not have a good dough recipe for the empanada pastry.  Here I have substituted pre- made frozen puff pastry that gives very good results.  I like to concentrate on making the delicious filling when making my empanadas. Ingredients for the empanada filling: 2 tablespoons olive oil 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped fine 1 pound ground beef 1 tablespoon tomato paste (may use catsup as a substitute) 2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon cinnimon 7 ounces (half a can) canned diced tomatoes, or one diced fresh tomato 2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand)  (You may substitute ¾ teaspoon cayenne or other dried hot pepper for the     sweet chili sauce.) ½ cup chopped cilantro 2 large green onions, chopped Salt and pepper to taste For the pastry: 1 package, 17 ounces, frozen puff pastry, thawed for 20-30 minutes at room temperature 3 egg yolks, scrambled, for the brush-on glaze for the pastry Parchment paper for baking For the optional dipping sauce: 1 can, 15 ounces, black beans rinsed and drained 1 cup sour cream 15 ounces (1 can) canned diced tomatoes, or two diced fresh tomatoes ½ cup chopped cilantro 2 large green onions, chopped Salt and pepper to taste Heat the olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until it is almost smoking then stir fry the garlic in the hot oil for a minute or two, taking care not to over-brown the garlic.  Add the ground beef and let it cook through until it is all browned.  As it cooks, break up the ground beef into tiny pieces in the skillet using a long wooden spoon.  When the beef is browned, add the tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, chili sauce and cook all these flavors together for 3 or 4 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes, cilantro and green onion and cook for 1 or 2 minutes more, season with salt and pepper to your taste and set aside the filling to cool.  While you are filling the pastry, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spread a sheet of parchment baking paper on your baking sheet so that the empanadas do not stick.  If you don’t have any parchment paper you can try baking without it, or apply just a little bit of grease on your pan to prevent sticking.  I find that if I use the parchment paper instead of grease, the bottoms of the empanadas are not so heavy, doughy and greasy. Cut the thawed pastry sheets into squares that are about 4 inches across.  My 17.3 ounce frozen puff pastry package comes with two sheets that can each be cut in 4 for a total of 8 squares.  Brush a little of the scrambled egg yolks onto all 4 edges of each square of dough so that they will stay sealed tightly during baking.  Use a large soup spoon to scoop 1 or 2 spoonfuls of filling into the center of each square and then fold one corner across to the far corner to make a triangle.  Use the tines of a fork to crimp the 2 edges of each triangle to seal them well.  Finally, brush the tops of each triangle with more of the scrambled yolk to give each empanada a good rich browned appearance when baked.  Bake in your preheated 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Next, I would like to try to add shredded curried chicken or roast barbeque pork as the filling in this recipe! For the dipping sauce, just use a blender to puree the black beans and the sour cream.  Then fold in half of the tomato, green onion and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Chill this in a serving bowl after you sprinkle the other half of everything else on top.  Try this sauce – it is a good very cooling contrast to the slightly spicy empanadas.
Empanadas with Beef Filling
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