A few weeks ago my new friend Lara, who is from Mexico, invited me to a special function. It was a Hispanic themed picnic that would be held in one of the local parks in Pennsylvania. Lucky for me, we live right on the border of PA., so the trip would only be 30 minutes away. There are not very many Hispanic families in my area, so this picnic would be extra special. it is a great way for the few Hispanic families to come together and share their culture, foods and their friendship. I met people from all over latin America there. People from, Peru, Colombia, Panama and Mexico, of course. The hard part for me was trying to decide what foods to prepare to share with everyone. I finally narrowed it down to a savory empanada. It would be easy to transport and even easier to eat, no forks required. My inspiration for the meat filling was my mom’s picadillo recipe with potatoes. With the added roasted poblanos and chile ancho, I decided to give it some extra spices that you typically find in Mexican chorizo, such as cinnamon, cloves and anise. There are just subtle hints of chorizo and mole (mo-leh) flavors through out the picadillo. I am so happy I decided to prepare extra picadillo filling. I will enjoy it in a variety of mexican inspired dishes for the days to come.
Empanadas de Picadillo en salsa de Chile Ancho~Beef Hand Pies
Tips~ I prepared a chimichurri sauce to serve with the empanadas. Key in the word chimichurri to the search bar on the home page for a variety of my favorite recipes.
4 large poblano peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 medium red or sweet onion, sliced thick
6 cloves garlic, skins on
2 serrano peppers, stems removed
3 cups white potatoes, diced
5 chile ancho, stems and seeds removed
2 pounds ground chuck
2 cups low sodium chicken or beef broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 teaspoon clove
1/3 teaspoon anise
More salt and pepper to taste
When I have more time, I prefer to roast my ingredients on the comal. I line it with foil paper for easy clean up.
And here are some poblanos roasting on the comal from a previous recipe.
1. Preheat broiler to high for a few minutes. Place the poblanos, tomatoes, onions, garlic and serrano onto large baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Broil for 10 to 12 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking time. Place poblanos in a plastic bag to steam or in a covered bowl. let ingredients cool.
2. Add dried ancho peppers to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. At the same time, preheat 4 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat for 5 minutes. Fry the diced potatoes until golden and crisp in most spots. Drain potatoes onto a plate lined with paper towels.
3. Peel the garlic. Add garlic, tomatoes, onion, serrano and drained chile ancho from saucepan. Add 1 cup chicken broth, blend on high until smooth, set aside.
4. Heat a large pot to medium/high heat. Add the beef. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons each of the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook until nicely browned. Drain out any excess fat. Add sauce from blender, all remaining spices and reserved cup of broth. Peel, clean and slice the poblanos into small strips. Add the poblanos and potatoes to the picadillo. Stir well to combine and cook to reduce and thicken, about 20 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper. let cool before using it for empanadas. Yields 8 to 10 servings.
Tips~ You will only need about 4 cups of the picadillo filling, but I prepared extra to use in other recipes. You can freeze the leftovers or use for tacos, burritos, enchiladas or chiles rellenos. You could also cut the recipe in half for a smaller portion.
For Empanada Dough
4 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1. Sift the dry ingredients together. Cut in the shortening until you have fine crumbles. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Gradually add in the milk mixture to the flour mixture until dough forms.
2. Knead the dough for a few minutes. If it seems to dry, work in a little more milk, but not too much. I like to roll my dough balls now, about the size of a ping pong ball. I place them in a storage container with layers of wax paper in between. Let dough balls rest for at least 30 minutes.
3. When ready to fill, place dough ball on a lightly floured surface and roll out to about 5 inches in diameter. Use as little flour as possible when rolling them out. Fill with about 3 full tablespoons of picadillo. Fold over and gently press to push any air our from around the filling. Choose your method for sealing the empanada. I fold the end in, so it looks like a triangle. Continue folding in towards the center until done.
4. Place filled empanadas on lined baking sheets. You can brush them with eggwash if you like, but I di not on this day. Bake in preheated 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes on the bottom rack in oven. Move to the middle and finish browning under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool completely before storing in refrigerator. Yields about 24 hearty empanadas.