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Ground Beef Empanadas (Picadillo)

When I found out I was moving to Texas from Virginia all the way back in 1997 when I accepted a spot in the master’s program for journalism at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook ‘em!), my friend Wendy gave me a Tex-Mex cookbook.

“Enjoy your adventures in the Lone Star State and learn to cook some yummy food,” she inscribed in the front cover.

Although my plan was never to stay in Texas after I graduated, I find myself still here 15 years later. I’ve had many adventures, and I’ve learned to cook some delicious food (tamales still elude me so if you want to teach me, please send us a message!).

Empanadas are one of my favorites. A little hand-held pie, an empanada can be either sweet or savory. I love this version with ground chuck and some surprise sweetness in the raisins. Delicious.

Ground Beef Empanadas (Picadillo)
Makes 8 empanadas

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 oz ground beef chuck
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup drained green pitted olives, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 cup canned tomato puree or sauce
Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
One 1-lb pkg frozen puff pastry
All purpose flour, for dusting
2 large eggs, beaten with 1 Tbsp water

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Heat the oil in a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef chuck and cook until browned, about 7 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper. Add the olives, raisins, carrots and onions and sauté for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the tomato puree and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and cool to room temperature before filling the empanadas.

Grease a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Unfold one sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Using a floured rolling pin, roll the pastry out to 1/4-to-1/8-inch thickness. With a knife, cut out 4 equal squares measuring 4 1/2-by-5 1/2 inches. Add 2 tablespoons of the cooled beef mixture to the center of the square. Brush the edge of each square with some egg wash and fold to shape into triangles. Crimp the edges with a fork. Transfer the empanadas to the prepared baking sheet and brush them with the remaining egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 172, Calories from Fat: 80, Fat: 9 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 64 mg, Sodium: 640 mg, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 12 g, Protein: 7 g.

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