Hand pies, pasties, turnovers. Hot Pockets! Little hand-held meat pies have many names but they are all so delicious. (Except the Hot Pockets.) A circle of pastry holds cooked meats plus if desired potatoes, vegetables, and seasonings. Once baked or fried up they are a perfectly portable meal. Plus, there is always something special about ingredients tucked away in a pie crust, waiting to be discovered, devoured.
These meat-filled pies are empanadas, and they’re filled with a mixture of beef and spicy chorizo, and potato.
The pastry crust holding it all together is a blend of flour and cornmeal. We had these beef-filled pies with salsa and sour cream, and they were delectable.
If you can somehow keep from eating them all the night you make them, they are great to take to work or school the next day for lunch!
At a supper pies class a few years ago at King Arthur Flour we learned about using lard or rendered bacon fat in the crust, to be substituted for some of the butter. While doing this does add a savory, meaty flavor to the crust it can also make the crust rather rich and heavy, especially considering the meat awaiting you inside the crust.
If you have some lard or rendered bacon fat on hand and want to try it, try adding in just two tablespoons in place of the same amount of butter. This amount will give the flavor without making it so rich as to be overwhelming.
Spicy Beef & Chorizo Empanadas
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 14 tablespoons butter, cold
- 1 cup ice water
- 1/2 pound russet potatoes, about 1 potato, washed and peeled
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound chorizo
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
Make the dough:
- In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, and salt. Slice the butter into small 1/4-inch cubes. Work these into the flour using a pastry blender until the mixture is coarse. Add ice water to the mixture, a 1/4 cup to start and then 1 tablespoon at a time, using a spoon to toss the mixture together after each addition: add water only until the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze some in your hand.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently 4-5 times. Divide the dough in half, flatten each half slightly with the palm of your hand and wrap the disks in plastic wrap. Chill the dough disks in the fridge for 30 minutes or until firm.
Make the filling:
- Slice the potato into small cubes, and place them in a saucepan with just enough cold water to cover them. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and cook the potatoes for about 5 minutes until they are just tender. Drain the potatoes and set them aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Crumble the ground beef and chorizo into the pan, and add in the diced onion and garlic. Cook the mixture for about 7 to 10 minutes until the beef and chorizo are cooked through. Drain off the grease, then return the pan to the stove. Add in 1/2 cup of water, the cooked potato, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Stir everything together and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set the mixture aside to cool.
Assemble the pies:
- Have some water ready at your work area, as well as a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Unwrap one dough disk onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 5-inch circles out of the dough; gather and re-roll the scraps to get additional circles. Spoon about 3 tablespoons of filling onto a dough circle. Dip your finger with water and moisten the entire edge of the circle. Bring the far edge of the circle towards you to meet the other edge, press the edges together firmly. Gently pull a corner and fold it in, then pull the corner created by that fold and fold it in. Repeat this along the edge of the empanada until it's sealed all around. Place the empanada on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough circles and filling, also using the second disk of dough from the fridge. Cover the empanadas with plastic wrap and chill them for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cut vents into the tops of the empanadas. Beat together the egg and 1/4 cup of water. Brush this wash over the empanadas using a pastry brush. Sprinkle a little Maldon sea salt on the tops.
- Bake the empanadas for about 30 minutes, until they are lightly browned on top. Remove them from oven and serve while warm. Leftover empanadas should be stored wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.