Beef Empanada with Sourdough Crust

Sponsored by The Watkins Company

A classic Filipino pastry filled with meat and encased in a crisp buttery crust, my take on Beef Empanada has an easy filling that comes together in minutes and a sourdough crust that’s impossible to mess up.

I can trace my love of food and cooking directly to my Filipino upbringing. The women in my family love to cook. Get-togethers were centered around food, and whether it was our weeknight dinners or huge family reunions, the recipes were always lovingly prepared. My mom is an incredible cook, but she didn’t bake very often, which made the times when she did extra special. 

Beef  Empanadas were one of the few pastries that my mom would bake for us as kids. Although we had easy access to excellent pastries at our neighborhood bakeries in the Philippines, nothing beat my mom’s freshly baked homemade Beef Empanadas. Now that I live hundreds of miles away from her, I’ve learned how to remake my favorite savory pastry whenever I want a taste of home. 

The Filling

This Beef Empanada filling couldn’t be easier. As a child, I really hated vegetables and encasing them in a really buttery crust was my mom’s way of sneaking them into my diet. Thankfully, I’ve developed a love for greens and veggies, but one thing I still don’t like when I eat an empanada is biting into large pieces of onions and garlic. To appease my picky palate, my mom would always use dried spices for flavor whenever she made these and I’ve followed her lead to this day.

It’s so important to use great quality spices when you make this dish. I’ve partnered with The Watkins Company to recreate this childhood favorite and because their products are packaged for optimal freshness, I know they will deliver the most flavor to my filling. Garlic is the base of a lot of Filipino cuisine, so I used Watkins Organic Garlic Powder as well as Watkins Organic Black Pepper Grinder and Organic Smoked Paprika for added depth, spice and smokiness. I always use Watkins products because they are free from dyes, high-fructose corn syrup and other artificial ingredients. Plus, developing my recipes using Watkins is a no-brainer because I want you all to be able to get your bakes as close to how mine taste and Watkins is available and easily accessible to everyone through many retailers nationwide and at Watkins1868.com.

Raisins are a signature of Filipino empanadas, and I really can’t imagine omitting them from this recipe. They provide a pop of sweetness and acidity that creates nuance and a beautiful balance in this dish. If you don’t like raisins in savory applications, you can leave them out, but I highly recommend trying them at least once.

The Crust

As a breadmaker, I can be a bit heavy-handed with my dough which can be disastrous for delicate pastries like this Beef Empanada. Pie crusts are truly a science, they need the perfect ratio of fat, flour and moisture and they require a very light touch or else they turn out dry and tough. I struggled with producing perfect pie crusts until I discovered the secret to full-proof pastry: folding. Folding (laminating in pastry terms) creates layers of butter in your dough. It’s the same technique used for puff pastry and croissants, but instead of creating a butter block and encasing it into your dough, my method is really easy and just requires rolling and folding your dough a few times. By taking this extra step, you’ll end up with a pie crust that’s guaranteed to be tender and flaky. 

Since you’ll be handling your dough quite a bit more than regular pie dough, you’ll want to make sure you keep it cold. Start with really cold butter and cold flour, if possible. If your butter looks like it’s starting to melt or your dough starts to feel sticky while you’re laminating it, stop working it immediately, wrap it up and chill it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before continuing. 

Now on to the recipe!

Ingredients

Dough

IngredientAmount
Sourdough Discard113 grams½ cup
Water28 grams2 tablespoons
Egg1
Flour300 grams2 ½ cups
Baking Powder½ teaspoon
Butter226 grams16 tablespoons

Filling

IngredientAmount
Yukon Gold Potato300 grams2 cups
Ground Beef (80/20)226 grams½ lb
Carrots150 grams1 cup
Raisins75 grams½ cup
Peas60 grams½ cup
Watkins Organic Smoked Paprika1 teaspoon
Watkins Organic Garlic Powder1 teaspoon
Watkins Organic Black Pepper Grinder½ teaspoon
Watkins Sea Salt1 teaspoon

Egg Wash

IngredientAmount
Egg1
Water14 grams1 tablespoon
Watkins Sea Salt⅛ teaspoon

Instructions

Make the Dough

Cut your butter into ½-inch cubes. Set aside in your freezer until ready to use. 

In a small bowl, combine your sourdough discard, water and egg. Mix until your starter is completely dissolved and no traces of egg remain. Set aside and keep the mixture cold until ready to use. 

Place flour in a large bowl, toss butter in flour until all butter pieces are coated. Squish the butter pieces with your fingers. Your butter should be well coated and you’ll have pieces of varying sizes, from walnut to pea-sized. 

Create a well in the center of your flour and pour your starter mixture in the middle. Using a spatula, lightly mix your dough. Then using your hands, begin bringing the dough together with a light kneading motion, just until the mixture sticks together. 

Turn your dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and bring your dough together into a disc. Wrap the dough and place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This rest period will allow your butter to cool down and your flour to fully hydrate. 

Place your dough on a lightly-floured surface. Using a rolling pin flatten your dough out to roughly a 10 by 12-inch rectangle (the measurement doesn’t need to be exact). Fold the shorter edges towards the middle like a letter. Wrap your dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. 

Re-roll your dough and repeat folding once more. Wrap your dough in plastic and store it in your refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight before assembling your empanada. 

Make the Filling

Peel your potatoes and carrots, cut them into ½ inch cubes. Set aside. Grind the peppercorns, and combine it with the paprika, garlic powder and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

Heat your oil up in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry the potatoes in the skillet for 5 minutes, stirring so they cook evenly. Add carrots and ground beef into your skillet, stirring occasionally until the meat has browned, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the spice mix.  

Once the vegetables are tender, add in the raisins and frozen peas. Check your filling for seasoning and move your filling into a heat proof container. Allow your filling to cool completely before assembling your empanada, warm filling will melt the butter in your dough! 

Assemble your Empanada 

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Line two 9 by 13 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, about 58 grams each. Round each portion of dough into a ball, place each dough ball on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 15 minutes before proceeding.

Working with 1 portion at a time, using a rolling pin flatten the dough into a 6-inch circle. Add 3 tablespoons of filling to half of your dough. Wrap dough around your filing, lining up the edges. You can trim off any excess using a pizza cutter or a knife. Using a fork, crimp and seal the edges of the dough. 

Place the unbaked empanada on your baking sheet and refrigerate while you shape the remaining dough portions. 

Bake

Position your empanadas on your baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Combine the egg wash ingredients. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the empanada with egg wash. 

Bake the empanadas until they are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and carefully place your empanadas on a wire rack to cool slightly. 

Empanadas are best enjoyed fresh out of the oven. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. To reheat, place them in a 350 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. 

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather says:

    What do you eat these with? Or is this the whole meal? Just curious is something else would complement them. I look forward to making. I checked out your book from the library and this recipe seems a little less time consuming.

    1. These are eaten by itself as a snack, similar to a ham and cheese croissant. Hope you try it out!

  2. Amy says:

    When do you put the baking powder into the dough?

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