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Fried Beef Empanadas - from the Crazy Cuban


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Cuisine: Mexican

From the menu of . . . The Crazy Cuban
1475 Terrell Mill Road, Marietta
770-226-0021

Q: Recently, my husband and I dined with friends at the Crazy Cuban in Marietta and had a wonderful meal. For me, the best part was the empanadas. Could you persuade the kitchen to part with the recipe?
- Joanie Reinheimer, Roswell

Hands on time: 1 hour and 15 minutes  Total time: 1 hour and 50 minutes  Serves: 24

Ingredients:

    FOR THE FILLING:
    2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    1/2 cup diced onion
    1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
    1 pound ground beef
    1/2 cup tomato sauce
    Black pepper to taste
    Salt to taste, optional
    1/2 teaspoon whole oregano
    2 tablespoons capers
    2 tablespoons raisins
    2 tablespoons chopped green olives

    FOR THE DOUGH:
    3 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1/4 cup vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into pieces
    1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
    2 egg yolks, beaten with 3 tablespoons ice water
    6 to 8 tablespoons ice water, divided
    Vegetable oil for deep-frying

Instructions:

To make the filling: In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onions and garlic, and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef, tomato sauce, pepper, salt (if using), oregano, capers, raisins and olives. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, and cook slowly for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
To make the dough: Place flour and salt in a food processor and process for several pulses to blend. Add the shortening and butter and process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, about 12 seconds. Add the yolk and water mixture and process for 3 pulses. Keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, following with 2 to 3 pulses, until the mixture just sticks together but does not form into a ball around the blades. You may not need all of the ice water. Turn the pastry out onto a cool, smooth surface, knead briefly, and form it into two balls. (The dough can be prepared ahead of time up to this point and refrigerated overnight.)
Flatten one ball of the pastry into a disk. Cover it with wax paper and roll it out to a thickness of 1/16-inch. Cut into 4-inch rounds. Place a pastry circle on work surface. Put a heaping tablespoon of filling on the lower half of each circle. Fold over, moistening the edges with a little water to seal, if necessary. Crimp edges with the tines of a fork to seal.
Pour oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches into a large, deep skillet and heat to 360 degrees. Fry the empanadas, a few at a time, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per batch. With a slotted spoon, remove them to drain on paper towels. Keep the finished empanadas warm in an oven on low while the rest fry.

Notes:

The filling recipe for Cuban executive chef Maria Arce's fried beef empanadas worked wonderfully at home. Our tester found, however, that the dough (made with boiling water) was heavy and very difficult to work with unless, perhaps, the cook had had years of experience mixing and rolling it. We adapted a dough recipe from the cookbook "Fiesta: A Celebration of Latin Hospitality" by Anya von Bremzen (Doubleday, 1997). It went together more easily and was delicious, too.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 199 calories, 6 grams protein, 13 grams fat (percent calories from fat, 59), 14 grams carbohydrates, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 213 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

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