I threw these little morsels together on a whim one day during the holidays for guests, and I’ve probably made them five times since. Savory, hot, and filling, these little pastries are the perfect snack for parties, football games, or potlucks. Throw in a side of homemade ranch and they’ll be gone before you get the next batch out of the oven.
Saucy Note: Empanadas can be made a full day ahead of time if you have somewhere to keep them chilled. Assemble them but don’t bake them, and brush them with butter right before they go in the oven.
Makes about 18 small empanadas
Special Equipment: Rolling pin, baking sheets
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry dough
1lb ground beef (85/15 or 90/10 preferably)
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 cups beef broth
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. vegemite
½ tsp. red wine vinegar
¼ cup melted butter or olive oil (for assembling empanadas)
Thaw pastry dough for at least 40 minutes. Prepare beef when it is almost soft. Preheat oven to 400°F if baking immediately.
Mix beef with Worcestershire and soy sauces. Heat small amount of olive oil in large nonstick skillet. Brown beef in pan, breaking it into small pieces as it cooks down. Saucy Note: Smaller pieces not only end up more flavorful, but they also fit in the pastry better-big pieces tend to break through.
When beef is browned, drain on a paper-towel-lined plate. Return skillet to heat with residual oils and add beef broth, tomato paste, vegemite, and spices. Bring to a simmer and reduce until there is a scant cup, stirring occasionally. Add salt and vinegar, and then mix in beef. The mixture should be wet but not soupy. Leave in pan but remove from heat.
Roll out thawed pastry dough on a floured surface until uniformly thin. Using a 4” diameter glass or cookie cutter, I get 9 rounds with very little extra, so use that as a guide to thickness.
Brush each round with a small amount of butter or oil, covering it out to the edges. Using a spoon, place a small amount of the beef mixture in the middle of each pastry round. Fold the pastry in around the mixture to make a half moon shape, and use the tines of a fork to press the edges together-a decorative and functional technique!
If baking immediately, transfer to a baking sheet and brush tops with egg yolk. Bake in a 400° oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve with homemade ranch.