Friday, February 9, 2018

Baked Picadillo Empanadas #EattheWorld

Another year. Another cooking project. Yeah, I'm a sucker for any cooking project that gets us out of our own culinary traditions. So, I was excited to see the new #EattheWorld project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz. Here's her challenge. We're kicking off the project with Cuba! And you'll see a new country celebrated on the 10th of every month. Stay tuned.

Cuba was one of the first of my dinner party themes and it was all because of a mojito. Yes, I did plan an entire dinner around a cocktail! In the years since, we've made even more Cuban dishes, including Mojo-Marinated Pork CubanosCaldo Gallego, Pastel de Mango con Tres Leches, and so many more. We just love the Cuban flavor profiles of sour and salty and sweet. It's a circus for the tongue.

Eat the World: Cuba Edition
You can see what the other bloggers are sharing for our inaugural #EattheWorld...

Baked Picadillo Empanadas

Though Evelyne urged us to stretch a bit and cook something we've never made before - and I will, I promise! - I couldn't say 'no' when my Precise Kitchen Elf asked if he could make a batch of empanadas for the project. He doesn't cook with me very often, unlike his little brother, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf, who cooks with me all the time. So, when R offers, I run with it.

Picadillo is a traditional Latin dish whose name comes from the verb picar which means 'to mince.' Every Latin American country has a slightly different twise; the Cuban version includes olives, raisins, garlic, oregano, and a splash of red wine vinegar. Remember, I said, sour, salty, sweet, and more. And the word empanada comes from the verb 'empanar' which literally means to 'wrap in bread.'

Our version is baked, not fried, and we served it with three different sauces: chimichurri, fresh tomato salsa, and more picadillo in case they wanted more meat!

makes approximately 36 medium empanadas

Empanada dough
  • 6 C flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 C butter
  • 2 C milk, warmed (we used whole milk)
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T smoked paprika
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T fresh oregano, chopped
  • ½ T ground cumin
  • ½ C butter
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 T fresh tomato sauce
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 C sliced olives
  • 1/2 C golden raisins
To Finish
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, cubed
  • ½ C caper berries, quartered

Empanada dough
Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and blend well. Add the egg yolk and, then, the milk. Knead until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper. Cut out round disc shapes for empanadas.

Beef Filling
Combine the first five ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Melt the butter in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add the onions, garlic, and poblano and cook till the onions are softened and translucent. Add the meat mixture to the onions and cook on medium heat until the meat is cooked thoroughly, stirring frequently. Stir in 2 T fresh tomato sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Let the meat mixture cool, then place at your work area with the hard boiled eggs and caper berries.

To assemble the empanadas place a spoonful of the meat mixture on one half of the empanada disc, add a slice of egg and caper berry. Fold the empanada discs in half and seal the edges, You can twist and fold the edges with your fingers.You can crimp the edges with a fork.  Or you can use an empanada fork, what R called his "empanada generator."

Lightly brush the top of the empanadas with the beaten egg. This gives them a nice golden glow when they bake.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes - till nicely browned and firm to the touch.

We served ours with homemade salsa rojo, chimichurri sauce, and leftover picadillo. Yum!


  1. No Mom worth her salt ever turns down help when it is offered. Great quality time is found in the kitchen working together.

  2. This looks so fun! What precious memories.

  3. Hi Wendy, I love the color you achieved on these empanadas, and the fact that you worked together in the kitchen makes it all the better. Nicoletta and I love cooking together and it is a way for us to bond and share in a very passionate and creative environment. Just seeing what went into the Picadillo I had all these flavors lingering on my virtual tongue. I love empanadas and you both have done an amazing job!
    Well Done!

  4. Congrats to the chef Precise Kitchen Elf! They look awesome. So happy to have you part of the group!

  5. These look delicious! Now I'm craving empanadas!

  6. YUM. YUM. YUM. I wish I had picked Empanadas! Yours look like they turned out fantastic and it's always great to have a helper in the kitchen!
    Planning an entire dinner around a cocktail? That sounds like my idea of a great time!

  7. These sounds amazing! I hope my littles still help in the kitchen when they're bigger!!