Beef and muenster empanadas

So it appears that this is my second post in a row in which I’m being the “My boyfriend and I this…” and “My boyfriend and I that…” girl. I know that this can be a little irritating to you, my dear readers, and I hate to do that to you, but there is just no way I can avoid mentioning Rene in this post. You see, empanadas are kind of a special thing for us.

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There is a little place by Rene’s house in Brooklyn called Fiesta Chicken that sells rotisserie chicken and other specialties from the Dominican Republic. Probably more often that we should, we stop by this place on the way home to pick up the succulent chicken, yellow rice and beans, and our favorite, beef empanadas. All this food ends up weighing like five pounds and costs only about $10. The woman who works the counter knows us by now – she always smiles when we walk in and sometimes gives us little extras, like a salad or something. We take the food home, get into our pajamas, and eat it on the floor. Not because there’s no table, but because that’s just the way we like to do it. It’s not glamorous, but it is satisfying and so, so delicious. We always eat inhale the empanadas first. Again, they’re not gourmet or anything, but they are crispy, meaty and warm, which is exactly what we crave at the end of the day. Every time we eat them, we say “We have to try making these!” And last weekend, we finally got around to it.
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(Yield: 1 dozen pastries)


Dough recipe adapted from Alejandra Ramos

6 oz cream cheese, at room temp
6 oz unsalted butter, at room temp
2 c minus two tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt


1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 tsp paprika
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 oz canned tomato sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 4 oz muenster cheese, sliced or shredded


Extra flour for dusting
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp water
Sour cream, if desired

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Procedure: First make the dough. Beat cream cheese and butter in a mixer or food processor on high until smooth and creamy. Switch speed to low and add flour slowly until completely combined. Remove dough from bowl and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour (can be made ahead up to 48 hours). While dough chills, prepare the filling. Heat the oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. Add onion with a pinch of salt and cook until softened, about 4 min, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook another minute. Then add beef with 1/2 tsp of salt and all the other spices. Break up beef with a wooden spatula and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, for about 7 min. Add tomato sauce and cook for another minute. Turn heat off, taste and re-season if necessary. Let the filling come to room temperature before making pastries.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.  Remove dough from the fridge and let it rest at room temp for 2 min. (Separate ball into 2 pieces, if desired). Dust your counter and rolling pin with flour, and roll out dough to 1/6″-thickness. Use a 4″ round cutter or upturned bowl to cut out circles, rerolling and cutting any remaining scraps. Fill each circle with about 2 tbsp of filling and top with cheese. Fold over and crimp and seal edges, using a fork. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. In a bowl, whisk together egg and water, and brush tops of pastries with egg wash. Bake for 20-25 min, until empanadas are golden brown. Serve hot, with sour cream if desired.

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Do you have any strange yet comforting food traditions?

Any ideas for intesting empanada fillings?


  1. says

    I love your story! It sounds a lot like Tim and I. Actually, just last night, we ate dinner sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace, just because we could.

    And, now that we’ve discovered how awesome empanadas are (just posted some on Sunday :) ), we HAVE to try this filling out.

    Have a fantastic week!

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